(GIN) – Under heavy police surveillance, Angolan women rallied in the capital city Luanda to protest a draft bill that would criminalize all abortions and punish anyone who has an abortion or performs one, without exception, with up to 10 years in jail.
Among those objecting to the bill was the president’s daughter, Isabel dos Santos, who used her Instagram social media account to denounce the “criminalization of women.”
At the rally, hundreds of women carrying placards chanted “Freedom for women,” “Prison will not solve anything” and “Let us decide.”
Church leaders had reportedly lobbied hard for the bill. Speaking for the Episcopal Conference of Angola, Dom Manuel Imbaba told the French AFP news service that they supported the anti-abortion legislation. “To decriminalize abortion is to approve murder,” he said.
Currently, in Angola, abortion is only permitted to save the life of the woman. An abortion performed with the consent of the pregnant woman is punishable by imprisonment of up to three years. A woman who induces her own abortion is subject to the same penalty.
If the abortion was performed to conceal the pregnant woman’s “dishonor”, the maximum penalty is reduced to two years.
Further north, in Ghana, women’s health organizations have been denouncing the country’s high rate of unsafe abortions that are a major cause of maternal death.
More than one in 10 pregnancy-related deaths in Ghana are the result of unsafe abortions, notes the New York-based Guttmacher Institute in their report “Abortion in Ghana.”
“Some 13% of Ghanaian women who have had an abortion experience complications resulting from unsafe procedures, and fewer than half of them received the needed follow-up care,” cited Guttmacher.
“These statistics are all the more remarkable because Ghana is one of the few African countries where abortion is legal under fairly broad grounds, and abortion performed by a qualified profession under proper conditions is an extremely safe procedure,” they added.
Meanwhile, the few African countries which allow a woman to terminate a pregnancy without punishment may soon be facing disciplinary action from the U.S. under President Donald Trump’s Global Gag Rule. According to his executive order, recipients of U.S. funds may not mention abortion, refer women to a provider or tell them about their legal rights. w/pix of Angolan women at pro-choice rally