HD-Background Selector

2017 In Article

Safe abortion is not only a matter of law and policy. It is not sought in a vacuum. There are socio-cultural dimensions that inform decisions to seek termination of pregnancy. Where education and employment are not easily accessible, young women and girls are pushed towards early marriage. Where violence against women is rife, this increases the risk of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortion. Understanding these societal dimensions of reproductive health care ensures a holistic approach to the challenges that impede its full realisation. This paper examines the framework that regulates the right to abortion and the inherent deficiencies in that law. The constitutional provisions on safe abortion are explored particularly in terms of the extent to which they improve the legal framework and create opportunities for actualising the right.

2017 In Article

BACKGROUND: Although abortion is technically legal in Zambia, the reality is far more complicated. This study describes the process and results of galvanizing access to medical abortion where abortion has been legal for many years, but provision severely limited. It highlights the challenges and successes of scaling up abortion care using implementation science to document 2 years of implementation.                                                                                     METHODS: An intervention between the Ministry of Health, University Teaching Hospital and the international organization Ipas, was established to introduce medical abortion and to address the lack of understanding and implementation of the country’s abortion law. An implementation science model was used to evaluate effectiveness and glean lessons for other countries about bringing safe and legal abortion services to scale. The intervention involved the provision of Comprehensive Abortion Care services in 28 public health facilities in Zambia for a 2 year period, August 2009 to September 2011. The study focused on three main areas: building health worker capacity in public facilities and introducing medical abortion, working with pharmacists to provide improved information on medical abortion, and community engagement and mobilization to increase knowledge of abortion services and rights through stronger health system and community partnerships.                                                                                                                                                                           RESULTS: After 2 years, 25 of 28 sites provided abortion services, caring for more than 13,000 women during the intervention. For the first time, abortion was decentralized, 19% of all abortion care was performed in health centers. At the end of the intervention, all providing facilities had managers supportive of continuing legal abortion services. When asked about the impact of medical abortion provision, a number of providers reported that medical abortion improved their ability to provide affordable safe abortion. In neighboring pharmacies only 19% of mystery clients visiting them were offered misoprostol for purchase at baseline, this increased to 47% after the intervention. Despite progress in attitudes towards abortion clients, such as empathy, and improved community engagement, the evaluation revealed continuing stigma on both provider and client sides.                                                                                    CONCLUSION: These findings provide a case study of the medical abortion introduction in Zambia and offer important lessons for expanding safe and legal abortion access in similar settings across Africa. "

2015 In Article

INTRODUCTION: Adolescents are frequently reluctant to seek sexual and reproductive health services (SRH). In Uganda, adolescent health and development is constrained by translation of the relevant policies to practice. Recent studies done in central Uganda have shown that there is need for a critical assessment of adolescent friendly services (AFS) to gain insights on current practice and inform future interventions. This study aimed to assess the sexual reproductive health needs of the adolescents and explored their attitudes towards current services available. METHODS: A qualitative study was conducted in Wakiso district, central Uganda in September 2013.Twenty focus group discussions (FGDs) stratified by gender (10 out-of-school, and 10 in-school), were purposefully sampled. We used trained research assistants (moderator and note taker) who used a pretested FGD guide translated into the local language to collect data. All discussions were audio taped, and were transcribed verbatim before analysis. Thematic areas on; adolescent health problems, adolescent SRH needs, health seeking behaviour and attitudes towards services, and preferred services were explored. Data was analysed using atlas ti version 7 software. RESULTS: Our results clearly show that adolescents have real SRH Issues that need to be addressed. In and out-of-school adolescents had sexuality problems such as unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), defilement, rape, substance abuse. Unique to the females was the Issue of sexual advances by older men and adolescents. We further highlight RH needs which would be solved by establishing adolescent friendly clinics with standard recommended characteristics (sexuality information, friendly health providers, a range of good clinical services such as post-abortion care etc.). With regard to health seeking behaviour, most adolescents do not take any action at first until disease severity increase. CONCLUSIONS: Adolescents in Uganda have multiple sexual and reproductive health needs that require special focus through adolescent friendly services. This calls for resource support in terms of health provider training, information education and communication materials as well as involvement of key stakeholders that include parents, teachers and legislators.

2007 In Article

The background of the study is the very high prevalence of mortality and morbidity in Sub-Saharan countries due to abortions induced by unsafe methods. This paper draws on fieldwork conducted in 1998 and 1999 in the city of Bouake in Cote d'Ivoire. The study is based upon qualitative semi-structured interviews with men and women. This paper presents some case stories based on interviews with young women having had an abortion, or with men having had a young partner who has had an abortion, both married and unmarried. It discusses how illegally induced abortion may be understood in relation to ongoing social processes characterised by economic hardship and tensions between the sexes and generations. One important finding is that the young often choose abortion because they cannot count on economic and practical assistance from parents in feeding and raising the child. Parents are also often pushing their children to have an abortion.

2011 In Article

A rich literature exists on local democracy and participation in South Africa. While the importance of participation is routinely built into the rhetoric of government, debate has increasingly focused on the dysfunctionality of participatory mechanisms and institutions in post-apartheid South Africa. Processes aimed ostensibly at empowering citizens, act in practice as instruments of social control, disempowerment and cooptation. The present article contributes to these debates by way of a critique of the approach used by the South African state, in partnership with the Non-governmental sector, in what are called abortion "values clarification" (VC) workshops. This article examines the workshop materials, methodology and pedagogical tools employed in South African abortion VC workshops which emanate from the organization Ipas — a global body working to enhance women's sexual and reproductive rights and to reduce abortion-related deaths and injuries. VC workshops represent an instance of a more general trend in which participation is seen as a tool for generating legitimacy and "buy-in" for central state directives rather than as a means for genuinely deepening democratic communication. The manipulation of participation by elites may serve as a means to achieve socially desirable goals in the short term but the long-term outlook for a vibrant democracy invigorated by a knowledgeable, active and engaged citizenry that is accustomed to being required to exercise careful reflection and to its views being respected, is undermined. Alternative models of democratic communication, because they are based on the important democratic principles of inclusivity and equality, have the potential both to be more legitimate and more effective in overcoming difficult social challenges in ways that promote justice.

2012 In Article

There exists an enormous gulf between the aspirations of South Africa's abortion legislation – among the most liberal in the world – and its implementation. One weakness in the provision of abortion services in South Africa is the absence of comprehensive abortion counselling services. On the face of it, the idea that counselling ought, as a matter of course, to be a significant component of a country's termination of pregnancy service provision, seems both straightforwardly sensible and politically innocent. This paper describes how abortion counselling has historically, in many different contexts, been saturated with questionable assumptions about women and their bodies. Counselling has more often than not been deployed, either as the formal policy of states or through informal mechanisms, as a means of curbing the right to abortion rather than deepening the meaning of that right. Differing approaches to counselling emerge as a reflection of contestations over reproductive and gender politics. Specifying an appropriate model for the provision of state-sponsored abortion counselling in the public health sector of a secular constitutional state provokes more of a hornet's nest of dilemmas than is sometimes supposed.

2012 In Review

Unsafe abortion continues to be a major contributor to maternal mortality and morbidity around the world. This article examines the role of pharmacists in expanding women's access to safe medical abortion in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Available research shows that although pharmacists and pharmacy workers often sell abortion medications to women, accurate information about how to use the medications safely and effectively is rarely offered. No publication covered effective interventions by pharmacists to expand access to medical abortion, but lessons can be learned from successful interventions with other reproductive health services. To better serve women, increasing awareness and improving training for pharmacists and pharmacy workers about unsafe abortion - and medications that can safely induce abortion - are needed.

2012 In Article

The objective of this study was to determine the knowledge and attitudes of practicing Nigerian lawyers towards issues relating to reproductive health and reproductive rights, and their opinions about abortion law reform. It was a population- based study which consisted of interviews with practicing lawyers in north-east Nigeria. The results showed poor knowledge of issues related to reproductive health and reproductive rights among the lawyers. However, the majority (56.9%) disagreed that a woman can practice family planning without the consent of her husband. The prevalence of contraceptive use among the lawyers was low and attitude to abortion law not satisfactory. Only few lawyers (22.4%) supported safe abortion in cases of failed contraception. We conclude that reproductive health advocates must target legal professionals with a view to educating them on issues relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Lawyers in Nigeria should undergo capacity building in reproductive health laws and be encouraged to specialize in reproductive rights protection as obtainable in other developed countries

2014 In Article

Over the last few decades, total fertility rates, child morbidity, and child mortality rates have declined in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Among the most striking trends observed are the rapid rate of urbanization and the often remarkably large gaps in fertility between rural and urban areas. Although a large literature has highlighted the importance of migration and urbanization within countries’ demographic transitions, relatively little is known regarding the impact of migration on migrants’ reproductive health outcomes in general and abortion in particular. In this article, we use detailed pregnancy and migration histories collected as part of the Household and Welfare Study of Accra (HAWS) to examine the association between migration and pregnancy outcomes among women residing in the urban slums of Accra, Ghana. We find that the completed fertility patterns of lifetime Accra residents are remarkably similar to those of residents who migrated. Our results suggest that recent migrants have an increased risk of pregnancy but not an increased risk of live birth in the first years post-move compared with those who had never moved. This gap seems to be largely explained by an increased risk of miscarriage or abortion among recent migrants. Increasing access to contraceptives for recent migrants has the potential to reduce the incidence of unwanted pregnancies, lower the prevalence of unsafe abortion, and contribute to improved maternal health outcomes. © 2014, Population Association of America.

2015 In Article

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights recently adopted General Comment No 2 to interpret provisions of Article 14 of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights Women. The provisions relate to women’s rights to fertility control, contraception, family planning, information and education, and abortion. The present article highlights the General Comment’s potential to promote women’s sexual and reproductive rights in multiple ways. The General Comment’s human rights value goes beyond providing states with guidance for framing their domestic laws, practices, and policies to comply with treaty obligations. General Comment No 2 is invaluable in educating all stakeholders—including healthcare providers, lawyers, policymakers, and judicial officers at the domestic level—about pertinent jurisprudence. Civil society and human rights advocates can use the General Comment to render the state accountable for failure to implement its treaty obligations.