Safe abortion in rural areas needed, conference attendees say 

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The Africa Regional Conference on Abortion: From Research to Policy was held in Addis Ababa from November 29 to December 2, 2016. The goal of the conference was to continue working on ways to reduce unsafe abortion in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The four-day event brought together 250 researchers, policymakers, advocates, health care providers, youth, journalists and donors focused on reducing the detrimental impact of unsafe abortion on African women, especially young women and adolescents, as well as on their families and on society as a whole.

Professor Yifru Birhane, Minister of Health urged countries to revise restricted laws that drive women and girls to unsafe abortions.

Dr. Yohannes Dibaba, Research and Evaluation Advisor of IPAS Ethiopia says education has helped reduce unsafe abortion in Ethiopia.

In 2012 the safe abortion rate was 23/1,000, whereas in 2014 the number went up slightly to 28 out of 1,000 people.

He said increasing awareness about planning pregnancy, while at the same time expanding safe abortion service in the rural parts of the country is vital.

According to health researchers, abortions increase due to lack of education, economic and socio-cultural factors. Adolescents and young unmarried women cited the stigma attached to bearing a child outside marriage, their inability to support the child, and the realization that they would have to quit school for having abortions. Among older and married women, common reasons included economic hardship and the desire to space their children.

Lack of skilled medical professionals involved in abortions contributes to injuries and fatalities. About 10 percent of maternal deaths in Ethiopia come as the result of abortion.

In 2005, Ethiopia legalized abortion in cases of rape or incest, and in a number of other situations. Guidelines from the Ministry of Health in 2006 went further, expanding the range of health facilities allowed to provide abortion services and instructing health workers that women seeking abortions do not have to provide proof of rape or incest, or age.

According to the World Health Organization, 500,000 women die annually from abortion-related causes and 13 per cent suffer injuries resulting from unsafe abortions. Developing countries account for 95 per cent of unsafe abortions.