Abortion Laws in Tanzania
Is abortion legal in Tanzania?
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”
What are the different abortion services available in Tanzania?
- Medical abortion (abortion pills: Misoprostol, Cytotec, Misotac)
- Surgical abortion (in-clinic operation, manual vacuum aspiration and/or dilation & curettage)
- Comprehensive Post Abortion Care (CPAC)
Who can perform abortions in Tanzania?
In Tanzania abortion can be performed by a “skilled person”, which could include a:
- Clinical officer trained in provision of abortion services
Where can I go for comprehensive post abortion care in Tanzania?
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
What is the cost of an abortion in Tanzania?
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.
What are the legal and safe drugs available for abortion in Tanzania?
Misoprostol was registered in Tanzania in 2007 as a drug to stop postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). It is available under the brand names Misotac and Cytotec.
Can I buy abortion pills at a pharmacy in Tanzania?
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.
- 1. “Unsafe Abortion in Tanzania: A Review of the Evidence.” Guttmacher Institute. https://www.guttmacher.org/report/unsafe-abortion-tanzania-review-evidence
- 2. “Incidence of Induced Abortion and Post-Abortion Care in Tanzania.” PLOS One. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0133933
- 3. “Abortion and the Law in Mainland Tanzania.” Centre for Reproductive Rights. https://www.reproductiverights.org/sites/crr.civicactions.net/files/documents/crr_TZ_QandA.pdf