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15% of Adolescent Pregnancies in Uganda End Up in Abortion-Report

A National discourse in Kampala disseminating facts on induced abortion in Uganda points to the fact that half of adolescent pregnancies in the country are unintended and that 15% end up in abortion.

Statistics gathered by Makerere University, the Tutt-macher Institute and Public Health Ambassadors Uganda maintain that over 57,000 abortions take place among adolescents aged 15 -19 annually.

“In 2013, we observed that there were 313,000 abortions that were procured in Uganda among all the age groups. Let us prevent these unwanted pregnancies by ensuring that all women who are in need of postponing pregnancy have access to family planning,” Justine Bukenya, lecturer, Makerere University said during the workshop.

Statistics show that more than 10% of maternal deaths are as a result of unsafe abortions with over 100,000 being hospitalized for complications due to unsafe abortion.

Abortion in Uganda is illegal unless performed by a doctor who believes pregnancy places the woman’s life at risk. Ministry of Health estimates that as of 2008, 26% of all maternal deaths result from abortion complications.

This is aggravated by legal, socioeconomic, and geographical barriers to safe abortion, which compel women to use unsafe abortion methods and deter them from seeking post-abortion medical care.

The legal status of abortion is unclear because it provides for some exceptions while criminalizing the procedure in most cases. The Constitution, in Article 22(2) states, “No person has the right to terminate the life of an unborn child except as may be authorised by law.

However, what is authorized by law remains poorly understood. The Penal Code of 1950, Article 141 on “Attempts to procure abortion” states, “Any person who, with intent to procure the miscarriage of a woman whether she is or is not with child, unlawfully administers to her or causes her to take any poison or other noxious thing, or uses any force of any kind, or uses any other means, commits a felony and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.”

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