n African Journal of Reproductive Health - Abortion and contraceptive use in sub-Saharan Africa : how women plan their families : review article

Volume 15, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1118-4841
  • E-ISSN: 2141-3606


Based on available evidence, this review article posits that contemporary use of abortion in sub-Saharan Africa often substitutes for and sometimes surpasses modern contraceptive practice. Some studies and some data sets indicate that this occurs not only among adolescents but also within older age groups. In several sub-Saharan cities, particularly where contraceptive use is low and access to clinical abortion is high (though largely illegal), abortion appears to be the method of choice for limiting or spacing births. Even in rural areas, women may regularly resort to abortion, often using extremely unsafe procedures, instead of contraception. Available data seem to indicate that relatively high levels of abortion correlate with low access to modern contraception, low status of women, strong sanctions against out-of-wedlock pregnancy, traditional tolerance of abortion, and availability of modern abortion practices. Abortion has been and will likely continue to be used to plan families within much of sub-Saharan Africa.

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