CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC – The authorities address unsafe abortion (text in English and French)

Les autorités s’attaquent à l’IVG non médicalisée 

(The authorities address unsafe abortion)

En Centrafrique, le gouvernement s’attaque à la mortalité maternelle et infantile. Des assises se sont tenues cette semaine pour étudier la question. Les chiffres sont effrayants : 1/3 de la mortalité maternelle est causée par des interruptions volontaires de grossesses non médicalisées (882 décès de femmes pour 100 000 naissances).

In the Central African Republic, unsafe abortions are the leading cause of maternal mortality. Abortion is illegal and punishable by several years’ imprisonment. Only therapeutic abortion under certain conditions is legal. Assizes were held this week to study the question. The figures: one-third of maternal mortality is caused by unsafe abortions (MMR: 882 deaths per 100,000 live births). Each day, six women die as a result of their pregnancy or childbirth; this is why the government has launched an analysis to adapt its policy.

Health Minister Pierre Somse said: “It is only because of the criminal nature of the law on termination of pregnancy that most women hide and therefore hide to die.” He has called for a new law to reduce maternal deaths, better sex education and better access to family planning methods. He said:

« Ici il s’agit de combiner l’idéalisme et le réalisme. Le gouvernement, l’État, a l’obligation de protéger la santé publique. Et on ne peut pas avoir pour ambition de réduire la mortalité maternelle et infantile et occulter une cause majeure de cette mortalité infantile qui est l’avortement non médicalisé. L’idéalisme ici doit plutôt être placé  dans le sens de sauver des vies, dans le sens d’assurer la santé et le bien-être des femmes. »

“It is a question of combining idealism and realism. The government, the state, has an obligation to protect public health. And we cannot have the ambition to reduce maternal and infant mortality and hide a major cause of this mortality, which is unsafe abortion. Rather, idealism here should be placed in the sense of saving lives, in the sense of ensuring the health and well-being of women.”

A first step was the government’s adoption of the Maputo Declaration last year, which has yet to be voted on by the National Assembly. This could lead to a bill to decriminalise abortion and other initiatives in this direction. SOURCE: RFI, 18 January 2020. PHOTO: Bangui, the capital, by Siegfried Modola/Reuters