Following Roe v. Wade's Rollback, Sierra Leone Moves to Decriminalise Abortion
Sierra Leone has moved to decriminalise abortion in the country following the United States' reversal of the landmark reproductive rights case Roe v Wade.
On Friday, President Julius Maada Bio said his government has moved to protect pregnant women's health and rights by decriminalising medical procedures.
"Despite recent setbacks in the United States, feminist movements are stronger than ever and ready to persevere in the global struggle for democracy and reproductive justice."Mr Bio said during his closing remarks at the 10th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights in the capital city of Freetown. "My government has unanimously approved a safe motherhood bill that will include a range of critical provisions to ensure the health and dignity of all girls and women of reproductive age in this country".
The Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health Act has been approved by Mr Bio's cabinet and has now passed to parliament for approval. If passed, the new legislation will overturn a strict ban on abortions and may see a drop in maternal mortality numbers, which are currently the world's highest.
Around the world, abortion is completely banned in 26 countries including El Salvador, Honduras, Egypt, Madagascar, and the Philippines.
Last week, the United States became one of only four countries that have removed protections for legal abortion in over two decades.
"Utter chaos lies ahead, as some states race to the bottom with criminal abortion bans, forcing people to travel across multiple state lines and, for those without means to travel, carry their pregnancies to term — dictating their health, lives, and futures. Today’s decision will ignite a public health emergency," the Center for Reproductive Rights said in response to the ruling, noting concerns for the global south.
Globally, more than 25 million unsafe abortions are carried out every year, resulting in the deaths of about 39,000 women and girls and leaving millions more to be hospitalized with complications, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). These deaths are notably among poor women with more than 60 per cent of them in Africa and 30 per cent in Asia.