Abortion Laws in Sierra Leone
Abortion in Sierra Leone was made illegal by the Offences against the Persons Act of 1861. According to Sections 58 and 59 of this act, which was adopted from the English law and domesticated through another law that made all statues of general application in England before January 1, 1880 applicable in Sierra Leone, “it is unlawful for any ‘woman being with child’ with intent to procure her own miscarriage to unlawfully administer to herself any poison, using any instrument or other noxious thing”. There are heavy penalties for anyone who procures or abets another in the termination of a pregnancy. In light of limited exceptions to this strict law, there have been ongoing but challenging efforts in Sierra Leone, towards the review of the current abortion laws.i
Is abortion legal in Sierra Leone?
Abortion in Sierra Leone is legal only in cases in cases where a woman or girls life is at risk. However, in practice safe abortions services are rarely provided in nearly all circumstances. The prevailing multiple restrictions on abortion means that many of those women and girls who might qualify for a legal abortion are unable access a healthcare provider who is willing to provide one.ii
A few NGOs and hospitals with trained personnel perform post- abortion care after a woman has had a miscarriage or an unsafe abortion.iii
What are the different abortion services available in Sierra Leone?
Sierra Leone provides restricted medical (MA) as well as surgical abortion services.
*Note: Medication abortion (MA) is permitted for gestational age 5–9 weeks (and up to 12 weeks under certain circumstances) and Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) for 5–12 weeks and up to 15 weeks under certain circumstances).
Who can perform legal abortions in Sierra Leone?
In Sierra Leone a legal abortion can be performed by any trained medical worker at a licensed government or private hospital.
Where can I go for safe and legal abortion and post –abortion care services in Sierra Leone?
Safe and legal abortions and post abortion care services are provided at registered public and private health facilities and at certain NGO supported clinics in accordance with the abortion law.
Pharmacists can also provide abortion pills with a written prescription from a doctor.
What is the cost of a legal safe abortion in Sierra Leone?
The average cost of a medical abortion is between Le 70,000 -Le 150,000.
Which abortion pills are available in Sierra Leone?
There are two types of abortion pills available in Sierra Leone
- Misoprostol alone which comes with the brand name Misofem
- Mifepristone and Misoprostol combination pack under brand names like MM Combi Kit and Mariprist
Where can I buy abortion pills in Sierra Leone?
Misoprostol (Cytotec) and/or the combination of Misoprostol and Mifepristone (Medabon) can be found in some pharmacies in Sierra Leone, but can only be dispensed with an accompanying prescription.
What do abortion pills look like in Sierra Leone?
The most common brand name for abortion pills in Sierra Leone is MISOFEM. This is what the MISOFEM abortion pill looks like:
This is what the MM COMBI KIT abortion pill looks like:
This is what the MARIPRIST COMBI PACK abortion pill looks like:
Who can I contact for additional information and support in Sierra Leone?
- Planned Parenthood Association of Sierra Leone (PPA SL)
- Marie Stopes International Sierra Leone:
Short code: 3535 (Toll free with Orange & Africell)
- Ministry of Health & Sanitation of Sierra Leone
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- i “Towards Progressively Reforming Abortion law and the Health Care System in Sierra Leone.” Sierra Lii https://sierralii.org/content/towards-progressively-reforming-abortion-law-and-health-care-system-sierra-leone
- ii “Criminalization of Abortion in Sierra Leone -Women’s Lives at Risk. An AdvocAid Briefing.” Paper (February 2016). http://advocaidsl.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/AdvocAid-Briefing-on-Abortion-Law.pdf
- iii “Unsafe Abortion in Sierra Leone: An Examination of Costs and Burden of Treatment on Healthcare Resources” Paul, et al., J Women’s Health Care 2015, 4:2 https://www.longdom.org/open-access/unsafe-abortion-in-sierra-leone-an-examination-of-costs-and-burden-oftreatment-on-healthcare-resources-2167-0420-1000228.pdf