Self-managed abortion holds great promise to save lives and promote reproductive autonomy, particularly in Africa. Indeed, the African region records very high numbers of unsafe abortions, and the burden of abortion-related mortality is the highest globally. Abortion remains generally criminalized in violation of numerous internationally and regionally recognized human rights standards. The advent of abortion medicines and the increased grassroots energy geared towards curbing the harms of unsafe abortion evince medical abortion holds great promise for revolutionizing people’s access to high-quality reproductive care. This study discusses regional human rights frameworks, policy, case law, and a few representative domestic legislative frameworks in light of recent evidence and human rights developments surrounding self-managed abortion.

Standards such as access to the most comprehensive range of medicines, the highest attainable standard of health and scientific innovations, and repeal of discriminatory laws, including unnecessary regulatory barriers, emerge from the African human rights system. We conclude that while much work is needed to further elaborate on the standards set at the regional level, our research shows that a robust normative foundation for self-managed abortion emerges from the African human rights system.



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