África | Ethiopia
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Abortion Laws in Ethiopia

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Is abortion legal in Ethiopia?

In Ethiopia, unsafe abortions cause more than half of the 20,000 maternal deaths that occur annually. For much of Ethiopia’s modern history, safe abortion services were unavailable. In fact, abortion was only allowed when it physically put the woman’s life at risk. Motivated by the growing death toll from unsafe abortion and other related causes, advocates, providers and policymakers sought legal reform. (IPAS, 1998-2017) In 2005, the Ethiopian Parliament voted to approve a new, progressive law. Although the new Criminal Code of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia maintains the legal prohibition of abortion, it stipulates that abortion is allowed by law in the following circumstances:

  • When the pregnancy results from rape or incest
  • When continuance of the pregnancy endangers the health or life of the woman or the foetus
  • In cases of foetal abnormalities
  • For women with physical or mental disabilities
  • For minors who are physically or psychologically unprepared to raise a child
  • In the case of grave and imminent danger that can be averted only through immediate pregnancy termination.

The revised law also states that poverty and other social factors may be grounds for reducing the criminal penalty for abortion and that in cases of rape or incest, no proof is required beyond the woman’s statement that it has occurred. In addition, by allowing abortion for minors who are unprepared to raise a child, the law also marks a significant change for Ethiopia, where adolescents make up more than 45 percent of those seeking abortions. 

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What are the different abortion services available in Ethiopia?

  • Medical abortion (Cytotec, Misoprostol, Mifepristone)
  • Surgical abortion
  • Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA)
  • Dilation and Curettage (D&C)
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Who can perform abortions in Ethiopia?

In Ethiopia abortion, can be performed by:

  • Doctor (Mostly)
  • Midwife
  • Nurse
  • Clinical officer trained in provision of abortion services
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Where can I go for abortion services in Ethiopia?

  • Marie Stopes Ethiopia: MSIE provides medical and surgical abortion through its 31 centres throughout the country. MSIE is uniquely positioned to integrate FP with safe abortion services. Through offering pre- and post-abortion counselling and family planning method choice, MSIE enables women to prevent an unplanned pregnancy subsequent to an abortion.
  • Private Maternal and Child Care hospitals: provide safe abortion services through Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
  • Public health facilities: starting from health centre and above in the 3 tier Ethiopian health system( this includes health centers, primary hospitals, general hospitals and specialized hospitals) provide safe abortion service through Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
  • IPAS Ethiopia: As Ethiopia charts new ground with its abortion law, Ipas Ethiopia has become a regional leader in establishing safe abortion services and creating reproductive health networks.  Based in Addis Ababa, Ipas Ethiopia works to expand access to high-quality comprehensive abortion care and raises awareness about preventing unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions.
  • Engender Health: delivers a comprehensive range of SRH services from expanding contraceptive choice, to ensuring the delivery of high-quality maternal health care, and reducing unsafe abortions.
  • Family Guidance Association: an NGO who works to improve access to SRH services among undeserved rural and urban communities including safe motherhood and safe abortion services.
  • Pharmacies: provide abortion pills with a written prescription from a doctor
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What is the cost of an abortion in Ethiopia?

Safe methods of terminating an early pregnancy or procuring a safe abortion at clinics costs between ETB 500 ($22) and ETB 2000 ($86) for medical and surgical abortion respectively.

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What are the legal and safe drugs available in Ethiopia?

  • Mifepristone (Cytotec and Misotrol)
  • Mife-misoprostol (Mifeprex)
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Can I buy abortion pills at a pharmacy in Ethiopia?

Abortion pills can be bought at the pharmacy but can only be issued following a professional doctor’s prescription.

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Who can I contact for additional abortion information and support in Ethiopia?

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