Reproductive health and the politics of abortion in Ethiopia, Zambia and Tanzania

Organized by Astrid Blystad, Karen Marie Moland, Haldis Haukanes, Getnet Tadele
International Journal for Equity in Heath

From the Introduction

The papers in this thematic collectionspring out of a comparative and transnational research endeavor on competing normative processes and discourses on abortion and fertility control. The project investigated how international initiatives and national policies articulate with local moralities and practices related to fertility control and abortion among adolescents in the respective country contexts of Ethiopia, Zambia, and Tanzania.

Unsafe abortion is still responsible for some 18% of all maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. In this collection, particular attention is paid to the relationship between national abortion laws and policies, and women’s actual access to safe abortion services in the three countries. The papers demonstrate how the dynamics between national abortion laws and policies, and the religious and cultural landscapes in which abortion issues are set, generate unpredictable and at times paradoxical outcomes in terms of actual access to abortion services. It is not always the case that the most liberal law generates the easiest access. Furthermore, the practical difficulties related to the partial and often incomplete understanding of the complex webs of restrictions and opportunities have particular implications for the most vulnerable segments of the population. Inequity in access to safe abortion services puts young girls in rural areas in low-income countries at particular risk of complications and death from illegal unsafe procedures. Further articles will be added in due course.


‘An uneasy compromise’: strategies and dilemmas in realizing a permissive abortion law in Ethiopiaby Getnet Tadele, Haldis Haukanes, Astrid Blystad, Karen Marie Moland Full Text

Health, life and rights: a discourse analysis of a hybrid abortion regime in Tanzaniaby Richard Sambaiga, Haldis Haukanes, Karen Marie Moland, Astrid Blystad Full Text

The access paradox: abortion law, policy and practice in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambiaby Astrid Blystad, Haldis Haukanes, Getnet Tadele, Marte ES Haaland, Richard Sambaiga, Joseph Mumba Zulu, Karen Marie Moland Full Text

Why teach sexuality education in school? Teacher discretion in implementing comprehensive sexuality education in rural Zambiaby Joseph Mumba Zulu, Astrid Blystad, Marte ES Haaland, Charles Michelo, Haldis Haukanes, Karen Marie Moland Full Text

When abortion is not within reach: Ethiopian university students struggling with unintended pregnanciesby Mulumebet Zenebe, Haldis Haukanes Full Text

Shaping the abortion policy – competing discourses on the Zambian Termination of Pregnancy Actby Marte ES Haaland, Haldis Haukanes, Joseph Mumba Zulu, Karen Marie Moland, Charles Michelo, Margarate Nzala Munakampe, Astrid Blystad Full Text