By Dr. Milly Kaggwa, Senior Clinical Advisor for Africa, PSI
The effects of restricting or banning abortions in many U.S. states are dire – but as the Global South’s experience underscores: all hope is not lost.
For decades, public health organizations across sub-Saharan Africa have navigated legal landscapes to find ways to deliver abortion care even when that care is significantly restricted. Our learnings can help inform where the U.S. goes from here.
Abortion in sub-Saharan Africa, like in the U.S., isn’t illegal everywhere. Globally, abortion is only prohibited in 5 percent of countries. While that is unacceptable for the estimated 90 million women of reproductive age who live in those countries, this also means that in 95 percent of countries abortion is legal for some circumstances. It’s critical that people – health consumers and providers alike – understand what their rights and options are.
The law in many places permits abortion to save the life of the pregnant person. That is an important foundation, but I say, expand the definition to include mental health.
The fight must go on; conversation isn’t illegal and across the Global South, we’ve seen the power of advocacy to expand abortion laws. Little wins somewhere create the momentum to drive change everywhere.
Across continents, we can work together – sharing learnings to maximize the reproductive rights of women and girls, and abortion seekers. Our experience in the Global South can be the U.S’s North Star from here. After all, the right to choose must know no limits.