On Tuesday, the African nation of Sierra Leone passed the Safe Abortion Act, which legalizes abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks, after which abortion is allowed only in cases of rape, incest, or risk to the health of mother or baby.
Girls under 18 can have an abortion only with the consent of a parent or legal guardian, and the law mandates a minimum four-year jail sentence for unqualified abortionists.
Ipas, a pro-abortion organization, has been working with the government of Sierra Leone to address the problem of high maternal death rate. Pro-abortion activists believe the new law, which has yet to be signed into effect by President Ernest Bai Koroma, will solve the problem.
“This law is a huge opportunity to save countless lives from preventable deaths,” said Ufuoma Omo-Obi, country director at Marie Stopes, one of several abortion groups which has been pushing for legalized abortion in Sierra Leone.
But John Smeaton, chief executive of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, disagrees:
… the legalisation of abortion in Sierra Leone… will not save lives. A 2012 Danish study revealed significantly higher maternal death rates following abortion compared with normal delivery. Legal abortions are particularly unsafe in very poor countries such as Sierra Leone. In contrast, the so-called ‘studies’ conducted by Ipas have no credibility. It is like relying on studies by the tobacco industry into the safety of smoking. Ipas have vested ideological and business interests in abortion legalisation.