Africa's women struggle to gain abortion rights; USA women struggle to keep them

Most African states still struggle over the right to an early, safe, legal abortion and as a result the number of women dying from illegal terminations continues to increase at an alarming rate. However, in the United States, where women thought that this right had been established decades ago, it is now under serious threat, with the principle established in Roe v Wade under systematic attack in the courts and the states' legislatures. Just last week the Supreme Court heard argument in the latest state bid to undermine that right.

Read transcript of argument in US Supreme Court hearing: June Medical Services v Russo

Read Roe v Wade 

Abortion conundrum for court

Imagine you are an appeal judge in a country that permits abortion under certain conditions. One day, you hear the case of a young woman unable to give consent to a termination due to her permanent mental disability and behavioural problems. Doctors who assessed her were unanimous that an abortion would be in her best interests. Her adoptive mother however was strongly against the idea.

Read the judgment

The imaginary scenario was true enough for all concerned in the recent case of ‘AB’, a young woman from Nigeria living in England with her adoptive mother, CD, who is also from Nigeria.

Abortion allowed when pregnancy follows rape - Kenya's constitutional court

The right of Kenya's girls and women to abortion where their physical and mental health is at risk, has been confirmed by five judges of that country's Constitutional Court. The judgment is all the more significant coming just a few weeks after the same court rejected any lessening in the legal burdens of gay men.

In this judgment, absolutely crucial for Kenya’s women and girls, three stories collide.

The first is the story of Kenya’s constitution and what it says about abortion: “Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger ….”

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