UGANDA – Criminal abortion remains the law in spite of complications, deaths and high cost of post-abortion care

The Alliance of Women Advocating for Change,

Uganda, 28 September 2023, on SAAF website

While the government has put in place medical care services to support mothers who need post-abortion care in all healthcare centres, the Ministry of Health reveals that many of them still die due to complications without seeking help.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of World Contraception Day, Dr Charles Olaro, the Director of Curative Services in the Health Ministry revealed that despite awareness efforts about the availability of such services that help women battling complications post-abortion, many still end up in the medical ward even when they turn up to hospitals because they provide wrong information to health workers. He said it is because of this that the contribution of unsafe abortion to the general mortality figures has kept high at 10% of all cases of maternal mortality. Currently, maternal mortality is estimated at 189 women per 10,000 live births.

Abortion is generally illegal in Uganda with Articles 22 and 22(2) of the 1995 Constitution specifically providing for not terminating a pregnancy except to save the life of the mother [or often, girl]. The Penal Code Act of Uganda Cap 120, provides for criminal penalties, including punishing the health worker who helps a woman procure an illegal abortion with prison for three years whereas a pregnant woman who aborts for seven years if convicted. Over the years, activists have been advocating against this law.

According to Esther Makula, a Communications Officer at Naguru Teenage Health and Information Center, they have resolved to offer as much information as possible to teenage girls to create awareness. She says they have now set up 34 youth-friendly corners at public health facilities across the country to cater for youth-specific health problems.

According to statistics by the Health Ministry, 75 billion shillings (UK£ 17 million) was spent on providing post-abortion care last financial year.

SOURCE: Independent Uganda, 30 September 2023