There is enormous ambiguity on the legal status of abortion in Tanzania. Section 230 of the Tanzania Penal Code establishes abortion as legal when termination is necessary to preserve a woman’s life. Case law (Rex v. Bourne) further clarified that this life exception encompasses mental and physical health as well.
However, abortion is considered to be legally restricted due to Sections 150-152 which stipulate that providing, seeking, or procuring instruments to perform an abortion is punishable by 14, 7, or 3 years in prison, respectively. However, Section 230 and Section 219 provide that no person shall be guilty of the offence if an abortion was carried out in good faith for the purpose of preserving the mother’s life.
Despite Tanzania’s ratification of the 2007 African Charter’s Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (aka The Maputo Protocol) allowing abortion in cases of rape, incest or if the pregnancy endangers the woman’s life, mental or physical health or the life of the fetus, the government has not incorporated these provisions into its national law.
“This lack of clarity creates confusion amongst healthcare providers and women alike, and fear of prosecution on both sides pushes women to seek clandestine abortions that are often unsafe”
In Tanzania abortion can be performed by a “skilled person”, which could include a:
There is a network of clinics, pharmacies, and dukas that provide discreet abortion services in Tanzania.
Marie Stopes Tanzania provides a wide range of high quality, affordable and client- centered reproductive services to women including CPAC that can be accessed through the Marie Stopes clinics
DKT Tanzania provides a wide range of high quality, affordable and client-centered reproductive services to women including CPAC that can be accessed through the DKT clinics
Abortion pills can be purchased and dukas at pharmacies for between TZS 2,000-75,000+. Cost depends on the brand, the location of the pharmacy, and the pharmacist her/himself. Surgical abortions also vary in cost between TZS 25,000-200,000. The price depends on the clinic one visits. See below for safe, lower cost options.
Misoprostol was registered in Tanzania in 2007 as a drug to stop postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). It is available under the brand names Misoprost, Misoclear, Misotac and Cytotec.
Though it is illegal for pharmacies to sell abortion pills without a prescription and for any purpose other than stopping postpartum hemorrhage, pills are available without a prescription at pharmacies and dukas.