Roe vs. Wade: US prevarication poses threat to sub-Saharan Africa

15 August, 2022

This editorial by Friday Okonofua, Editor in Chief, African Journal of Reproductive Health argues that the recent US policy reversal on Roe versus Wade 'will spell doom for women worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa, it will strengthen the hands of those presently opposed to women’s rights and social equality with men, diminish the ability of African countries to achieve the Sustain Development Goals, and increase the rate of death and disability in women.'

'The situation is particularly worrisome because it would likely overturn the recent gains made by a few African countries to move towards a regime of liberal abortion laws. To date, of the 54 countries in Africa, only Zambia, Cape Verde, South Africa, Ethiopia, and Tunisia have liberal or relatively liberal abortion laws, while Benin Republic and Ghana recently moved towards abortion liberalization. By contrast, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, Kenya, and Ivory Coast continue to maintain laws that restrict safe abortion care. It is possible that any retrogressive decision on Roe vs. Wade in the US will harden the position of African countries on abortion and reduce the pace of change on liberalization in the continent.'

Best wishes, Neil

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, Global Coordinator HIFA,

Working in official relations with WHO