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THE ACCESS PARADOX IN SAFE ABORTION CARE: THE CASES OF ETHIOPIA, TANZANIA AND ZAMBIA [Abstract ID: 1101-09]
Fertility control and abortion are controversial issues in sexual and reproductive health and health policy. Despite unsafe abortion being one of the easiest preventable causes of maternal mortality, moral, religious and neo-conservative political reasoning upholds or exacerbates restrictive abortion laws and hinders political commitment to secure safe abortion services globally. In sub-Saharan Africa the rate of unsafe abortions is on the rise, especially among adolescents. Through three country cases - Ethiopia, Zambia and Tanzania- we discuss access to safe abortion services in different legal contexts aiming to identify the political, economic and social processes that mitigate the effect of the law. The law regulating abortion is classified as conservative in Tanzania, semi-liberal in Ethiopia and liberal in Zambia. The law is embedded in a social, religious and health systems context where the normative discourses are played out and facilitate or inhibit access within, or at times irrespective of the law. Although high rates of unsafe abortion are - broadly speaking - linked to restrictive abortion laws the country cases demonstrate that there is an unclear and at times paradoxical association between the status of the laws and actual access to safe abortion services.