Abortion in Uganda is restrictive unless performed by a licensed medical doctor in a situation where the woman’s life is deemed to be at risk.With women lacking access to safe and legal abortions, many of them turn to unsafe abortion practices, such as self-induced abortions. The Ugandan Ministry of Health in the Annual Health Sector Performance Report of 2017-2018 estimates that as of 2018, 5.3% of all maternal deaths result from abortion complications.
There are many legal and socioeconomic barriers to safe abortion services, which often results in women using unsafe abortion methods and being deterred from seeking post-abortion medical care.
Is abortion legal in Uganda?
Although the Government of Uganda ratified the Maputo Protocol on the rights of women, it did so with reservation to article 14(2)Con reproductive health and abortion ‘in cases of sexual assault, incest, rape and when pregnancy endangers a mother’s mental and physical wellbeing’ (CEHURD, 2016, p. 23). The government has resisted supporting an enabling environment to advance the rights of women with abortion care needs. Inducing abortion is allowed only on medical grounds for the purposes of saving the life of a mother (HRAPF, 2016). No statutory instruments operationalize this provision, however, and law enforcement agencies continue to use the Penal Code Act Cap. 120, which criminalizes the procurement of abortion and aiding a woman to do so (Mulumba et al., 2017). National policy responses are made in light of the law, and consequently, Uganda’s sexual and reproductive health guidelines only provide for PAC services. Eighty percent of the Ugandan population are Christian (Larsson et al., 2015), and faith-based institutions, particularly the Catholic Church, strongly influence abortion discourses. In 2016, policy reforms aimed at preventing maternal deaths and mortality due to unsafe abortion were withdrawn due to contention among stakeholders (Cleeve et al., 2016; HRAPF, 2016;Mulumba et al., 2017). Restrictions impact on both health workers and women of all ages, who are harassed, intimidated, arrested, convicted and imprisoned(HRAPF, 2016). This influences the decisions of many women to self-induce or seek support in unsafe environments, with people who lack adequate skills and expertise; as a result these women are at elevated risk of perforation, sepsis and death (Aantjes et al.,2018;Kagaha and Manderson, 2020). In Uganda, an estimated 54 unsafe abortions per 1000 women of reproductive age occur annually (Moore et al.,2014). Legal restrictions prevent state and non-state actors from developing health system capacities to respond to abortion care needs, and this result in discrimination against women with abortion care needs other than post abortion care (PAC) as permitted by policy (Mutua et al., 2018)
What are the abortion services available in Uganda?
Uganda provides both medical and surgical abortion services. For medical abortion (MA), a combination of two drugs, Mifepristone and Misoprostol is used or Misoprostol alone. Surgical procedures that are available are Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) and Dilation and Evacuation (D&E).
Medical Abortion up to 12 weeks
MVA up to 14 weeks
D&E usually 15-24 weeks
Post abortion care is legal and available in public and private health facilities across Uganda.
What are the legal and safe medications available?
The safe abortion pills available are Misoprostol and the combination of Misoprostol and Mifepristone.
Where can I get abortion pills?
Misoprostol and/or the combination of Misoprostol and Mifepristone can be bought from pharmacies in Uganda; however, an accompanying prescription is required. Prices will vary between pharmacies.
Many pharmacists do sell the pills without a prescription; however they do not often provide proper instructions on eligibility, dosage and usage for a medical abortion.
What do abortion pills look like in Uganda?
This is what Miso-Kare abortion pills look like
This is what Ma-Kare abortion pills look like
This is what Kontrac abortion pills looks like
This is what Misoprost – 200 abortion pills look like
This is what the Misoclear abortion pills look like
This is what Cytotec abortion pills look like
This is what Mariprist abortion pills look like
Who can I contact for more information on access to safe abortion in Uganda?
Community Health Rights Network (Coherinet) Aunt KAKI Sexual Reproductive Health Services and Rights Information Toll Free Help line provides non-judgmental and clear information about the choices available to women of reproductive age from the Priority and Key Affected Populations groups from the community grass root levels.
For post abortion care (PAC) information and support or for safe abortions that are legally allowed, please contact: Marie Stopes Uganda Contraception, post abortion care and pain management, affordable at all Health facilities under Marie stopes
Reproductive Health Uganda Contraception, post abortion care and pain management, affordable at all Health facilities under Reproductive Health Uganda
Inclusive Health Bureu (IHB) Contraception, post abortion care and pain management, affordable at all Health facilities under URHB. URHB was registered with the mandate to improve the sexual and reproductive health status of young people and children.
Naguru Teenage Centre The care provides all elements of comprehensive abortion care, as well as other medical services. This comprises of sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnosis and treatment, pregnancy testing, antenatal services, menstrual complications, post abortion care, infertility, nutrition and hygiene.
The Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Uganda (AOGU) Advance Reproductive Health services through excellent practice, education, research, collaborations and advocacy.