African Protocol and access to abortion

Congratulations to Prof. Charles Ngwena of the Department of Constitutional Law, University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa, whose IJGO paper on this important topic is now available on the Social Sciences Research Network:

Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women:

Implications for Access to Abortion at the Regional Level

By Charles Ngwena
International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 110, pp. 163-166, 2010
Full text online here

Article 14(2)(c) of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women enjoins States Parties to take appropriate measures “to protect the reproductive rights of women by authorising medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the foetus.” This paper considers the implications of Article 14 for access to safe, legal abortion. It is submitted that Article 14 has the potential to impact positively on regional abortion law, policy and practice in three main areas. First, it takes forward the global consensus on combating abortion as a major public health danger. Second, it provides African countries with not just an incentive, but also an imperative for reforming abortion laws in a transparent manner. Third, if implemented in the context of a treaty that centers on the equality and non-discrimination of women, Article 14 has the potential to contribute towards transforming access to abortion from a crime and punishment model to a reproductive health model.

Keywords: accessibility, human rights, reproductive health, transparency, unsafe abortion, women’s health

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