Ministers in Sierra Leone in West Africa have taken a significant step towards decriminalising abortion and abolishing the country’s colonial-era law in a move commended by women’s rights activists and campaigners. Julius Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone, said his cabinet had unanimously backed a bill on risk-free motherhood, which would enable access to abortion in a country where terminations are only permitted when a mother’s life is at risk.
After years of working towards this cause by government officials and a broad coalition of women’s rights groups, cabinet ministers approved the safe motherhood and reproductive health bill provisions. Campaigners hope the bill, which is now being drafted, will be submitted to parliament by September and passed this year.
“At a time when sexual and reproductive health rights for women are either being overturned or threatened, we are proud that Sierra Leone can once again lead with progressive reforms,” said President Bio, referring to the landmark Roe v. Wade bill that was recently overturned by the US supreme court and end the constitutional right to abortion, which has drawn criticism around the world.