[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 February 2006, 12:47 GMT
Should abortion be legal?
Pregnant woman
According to the United Nations around 34,000 women in Africa die every year as a result of unsafe abortions - that's 40% of the global figure. Is it time to make abortion safer?

Most of the four million abortions that happen in African are conducted in dangerous conditions by people who are not qualified to perform the surgery.

As abortion is illegal in most African countries, women go to back street clinics for the procedure.

Should abortion be legalised? Which circumstances do you think justify abortion? Do women have the right to a safe and affordable termination? Or would that encourage promiscuity?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

It's time governments thought of legalising abortion, not because it's right, but because it's safer
Elizabeth Gitau, Kenya
I believe women are being forced into abortions due to the stigma associated with being a single parent. The economy is awful and when you think of raising a child by yourself, one prefers dangerous methods. I think its high time governments thought of legalising abortion, not because its right, but because its safer for the African woman.
Elizabeth Gitau, Nairobi, Kenya

I have read with interest the comments, which vary from religious 'laws' to victims of rapes. I am not religious in any respect and if a woman wishes to have an abortion, then that is her choice and I have no reason to be against this. I can't say if I became pregnant at this stage in my life, if I would or would not have an abortion, but I'm delighted to have a choice in this day and age. Unwanted pregnancies are not just about incontinence or the results of rape, they can also be about bringing a child into a home of domestic abuse or about a woman being honest about her unfitness as a mother.
Sam, Aberdeen, UK

Men can be promiscuous with little consequence so why do we have this double standard for women? .
Sarah, Merseyside, UK

The argument on abortion should be simple: if your parents did not abort you, then why should you?
Wilson Kakai, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia/Kenya

40% of the women that die as a result of unsafe abortions do so in Africa. This figure speaks to the fact that outlawing abortions does not prevent them from happening. It does, however, force women into unsafe and uncontrolled environments that pose an enormous risk to their health. Legalizing abortions encourages promiscuity no more than airbags in cars encourage reckless driving. Would the state choose to remove safety standards in order to prevent car crashes?
Rachel Simpson, Alberta, Canada

As much as women have the right to an abortion, they have the right to be educated on how to avoid one.
Allara, Montreal, Canada

I think that abortions should not be legalized. Once the baby starts to develop on the first day, it is considered a human being. If it is against the law to kill anybody, it should be against the law to kill an unborn baby that is a human being.
Nastassja Ware, Dallas

There is no one to take care of the child so they choose abortion
Monica, Kenya
I don't think abortion should be legalised. But in cases where the mother is in danger that should ok to abort the child. Most of the times and especially young girls get pregnant by mistake and there is no one to take care of the child so they choose abortion. But in most counties allot of people need children and there are many children homes that cater for this child. It is also wrong in the eyes of God.
Monica Oguge, Nairobi, Kenya

Abortions should be legal but only before a certain time
Jay Cannon, Telford, UK

No circumstance should justify abortion.
Sammic Chidi, Dakar, Nigeria/Senegal

If you are responsible enough to get pregnant, be responsible for your child. Unless relating to rape then maybe abortion could taken into consideration. For indiscriminate sex which leads to pregnancy the infant should be born.
Ehis P, Helsinki, Finland

Why can't women make their own decision?
Nyan Nyan, Burma
If people have the rights to do or decide for their life, why can't women make their own decision? Are they not people? They are the one who understand well about pregnancy. They are the one who feel and face the difficulties. I think if abortion is illegal, it's equal to killing poor and uneducated women.
Nyan Nyan, Burma

Abortion is a preliminary way of committing murder. It is not justified, no matter the condition.
Peter C. Igbonekwu, Onitsha, Nigeria.

Abortion SHOULD be legal. People are forever going on about killing an infant when speaking against abortion but abortions are carried out before the foetus actually takes on any resemblance to a functioning organism. What if a woman is raped? Can you expect her to bring up a baby that reminds her of her trauma every time she looks at it? Or those that simply have no desire to raise a child - contraception is not 100% effective. What kind of a life will the infant have if the parents don't want it?
Joolz, London, England

Abortion is wrong. What they should do is after 3 babies and you are sure you don't want another one then you get your tube tied. if you get pregnant that isn't the baby fault. You can't kill it.
Carrie D, USA

Sex can give you more than you bargained for
Wisdom, Ghana/USA
Sex as it turns out can sometimes give you more than you bargained for. No wonder the Author had the good sense to say it should take place within the bond of marriage so that the 'partakers' can also stand together to take responsibility for the 'by-product'. Incidentally all of us are part of this 'by-product', so why don't you give others the chance to also have their day.
Wisdom, Ghana/USA

Abortion should always be legal.
S A Points, NSB, Fl, USA

Abortion should not be legalised.
A'Pen, Belgium

I think that abortion should be legal with woman who have over a set number of children, like 2 or 3, or to women who can barely provide for their family. But they should also make a new law that, if in fact abortion becomes legal, the second law should be that any woman, who needs to, can have her tubes tied after her third child. That way, woman who need the abortion can have it performed safely at a clinic and after the abortion set an appointment to get her tubes tied.
Paige, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

I can see that the BBC is trying to promote a pro-abortion agenda in Africa. I have discovered, every time someone sends in comments that are contrary to the BBC's agenda it is not shown. I have sent several comments on different issues with strong arguments against the BBC's leftwing agenda for Africa and they never get published. I dare you to publish this. All you are trying to sell to Africa, are already failed ideas and policies in this nation. It will not work. No matter how you try to sell it, abortion is simply murder.
Yemi, London, UK

I would not have an abortion any day, but women should have a choice. I don't see why men should be worried about abortion leading to promiscuity. After all men are way too promiscuous and I would not want to have such a man's baby.
E. Courage Maunze, Zimbabwe/Canada

If killing a grown person is wrong, why then is killing an infant right?
Amos Kabaki, Florida, USA

Abortion should be legalized and state-of-the-art clinics made readily available to women in need of such service, until most African governments are able to create the necessary economic conditions to render abortion totally unnecessary.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., New York, USA

Women still do not have the right to make decisions for themselves
Tijana, Canada
I find it completely unnerving that in the 21st century women still do not have the right to make decisions for themselves. I think that abortions should be legal; that women should have the option of having an abortion in the first trimester, while the foetus still has not developed, and therefore is not considered a human yet. I do not persecute religious groups and think that if you are against abortions that is your own choice. But that is your opinion and if you do not want to have abortions, don't. But do not push your views on someone else.
Tijana, Toronto, Canada

If you are responsible enough to get pregnant, be responsible for your child.
Shiellah, MD, Zimbabwe/USA

It is hypocritical and greedy to say the least for those who had a chance to be born into the world to deny others the same chance. Give everyone the chance to experience their share of life.
Miracle Shiloh, Detroit, MI, USA

If you support abortion I suppose you also support killing all poor, disabled, or just unwanted babies and children. There is no difference.
Bertha Smith, USA

The only situation where I feel it is justified for a woman to choose abortion is if the woman's life is endangered by the pregnancy.
Keryn Paul, Papillion Nebraska, USA

Abortion should be legal. I believe that a woman has a right to choose. Why bring a child into the world and she can't take care of it? Even if the child could be put up for adoption, there is no telling if that child would find a good home.
Ellie, New York, USA

No one has the right to take life. The foetus has a right to live. Abortion should be performed only when it is a threat to the mother's life. Anyone engaging in sexual acts should bear the consequences. I stand to defend the powerless babies against the decision of their shameless mothers.
Louis Cartney, San Diego, California, USA

Couples should practice family planning
Fon Ernest, Netherlands
According to me, abortion is an act of evil and should never at any time be legalized in Africa. Couples should practice family planning, while young girls and boys should use condoms or better still abstinence, as that will keep them both from sexually related diseases and unwanted pregnancies. The right to live is equal to the right to give birth.
Fon Ernest, Emmeloord, Netherlands

I think all woman should have the right to decide for themselves if abortion is the right action. In Africa, in particular, poverty rates are so high but so are birth rates. Even with contraception, women still wind up pregnant. I would much rather see a woman abort a child that she cannot care for than see another malnourished African child with a miserable life and little to no future. People who oppose abortion need to realize that sometimes it is better to end a life than have a child lead a miserable and hopeless life. Abortion should be legal everywhere.
Sam, Washington DC, USA

No, as more and more will start to do abortion. They should realise their mistakes & get proper counselling before they conceive any child. Or else just be strict with your husband. He's not the one who's going to bear the pain.
Shalina Gaffor, malaysia

Women and men should have access to information about responsible contraception and conception and should make decisions together. As long as men do not respect women's rights to make choices about their sexuality, fertility and conception, and women do not exercise their rights in this regard, abortion will be necessary.
Marion Meyer, La Ceiba, Honduras

I think abortion should be legalised. It will save a lot of lives, even though it will also promote premarital sex.
Sandra , Stavanger, Norway

No, no, no, I mean just no. Period.
Brian Ohene-Agyekum, Toronto, Canada

Who are we to judge?
Vee, UK
To those who say it is immoral to abort or goes against our tradition, rape and incest are also taboo in our morals and way of life, but they happen. Who are we to judge women for sparing an unborn child? Or the agony of being unwanted throughout their life because they are not the product of love?
Vee, Stevenage, UK

No unborn child deserves to be killed and you will live with the pain no matter what.
Delly, Freetown, Sierra Leone

One way or another, those wanting an abortion will get it. Therefore, if abortion is legalised, it'll allow the pregnant women to do it safely. You could call it harm minimisation. Though family planning and everything else sounds way better than legalising abortion, sometimes it just does not work. It is true that this procedure can be traumatic for the medical staff, but they do have a choice to not take part in it anyway.
Dr Richards, Australia, Melbourne

I believe abortion should be legal. Women will get an abortion one way or another. Why not make it easier on everyone and make it safe and legal?
Yana, Buellton, United States

Absolutely not. Abortion should only be legal when the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother. Abortion is a clear violation of a child's right to life, a right we uphold so much beyond the womb. It is not possible really to equate the right of choice and the right to life. Promiscuity has little to do with it, it is a human rights issue.
Wanjiru Ngige, Newcastle, England

The procedure is traumatic for the medical staff too
Dr Gabriel, South Africa
The procedure is traumatic for the medical staff too. Prevention or family planning must be popularised. In any case, abortion must be done legally.
Dr Gabriel, South Africa

Family planning should be intensified to reduce the number of abortions in Africa.
Kwame Gyabaah, Drobo, Ghana

If a woman can assume the responsibility of sex, she should be able to assume the responsibility of pregnancy.
Donatus Akumbom. Cameroon.

My wife had an abortion last year and we have two children already and the cost of living is expensive for another baby. Therefore it should legalised
Abdul, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Abortion should be legalised. Women get impregnated under varied circumstances such as rape, incest and many other circumstances. It should be legalised, to avoid the situation where pregnant women have to adopt illicit methods to cause abortion that are invariably injurious to their health.
Erick Kumawu, Madina, Accra

In my view you are better off not aborting a precious child
Regionald Obi, USA
I truly sympathise with women and men who face the choice to have an abortion or not. This decision will have lasting consequences regardless of what direction one eventually follows. For those who abort - they know that the story does not end there. So many women and men live with the guilt, depression and other emotional scars that make up the post-abortion syndrome. In my view you are better off not aborting a precious child.
Reginald Obi, USA

Many girls who do not tell their parents of their pregnancy have often presented them with their dead bodies.
Asare, Accra, Ghana

I lost a friend while we were students in our fourth year. She was afraid of her parents.
Anon, Zambia

I am 62 years old and I had an abortion at 17. My marriage was childless. I am divorced and unhappy. With legal abortion, things would have been different.
Anon, Nigeria

Most women don't want to have an abortion, but society looks down on single mothers
Anon, Congo

I saw the awful consequences of "back-street" abortion, when I was a medical officer in Sierra Leone. Abortion should under certain conditions be legalised.
Anon, Zambia

Abortion should be legal in African countries. Women deserve the right to choose what is going to happen to their bodies. Condom use and abstinence should be promoted so that some women will hopefully not find themselves in need of an abortion.
Karen Palmigiano, Rhode Island, USA

I think abortion should be made illegal to a certain extent. If a woman is raped, or is infected with HIV/AIDS I think the government should give clearance for an abortion.
Casoni Njikam, Sweden/Cameroon

Legalise abortion. If these women have no recourse but to go to backstreet clinics which have no standards on the quality or training of the surgeon performing the operation, is it any wonder 34,000 women die each year in Africa?
Ian Alexander, Bellingham, WA, US

Abortion is murder and should not be allowed in Africa under any pretext. Our traditions forbid it.
Dan Alwala, Kenya

Does a raped woman have to bear an illegitimate child?
Nick, Zambia
It is easy to say abortion should remain illegal until one is faced with a truly impossible situation. Does a raped woman have to bare the shame and pain of carrying an illegitimate child she does not want?
Nick, Lusaka Zambia

I am of the view that abortion should be legal, reasons being as follows: (1) HIV/AIDS: Children are born with just two years to live, and parents on their way to the graves. (2) There are no proper structures to cater for orphans (3) Legalising abortion would mean they can now be done not in back alleys but by properly trained personnel.
Patrick Goitseone, Gaborone, Botswana

Which of the options below is the greater crime? a) the death of 35,000 unborn potential humans before birth in sanitary conditions by train medical professionals. Or b) the death of both the 35,000 foetuses and 35,000 grown women, who may leave behind them dependents and who may die in great pain
Faith, South Africa

Governments of African States should start searching for those so called unqualified doctors and nurses who carry out unsafe abortion, without been questioned. Especially on young girls.
Memunatu Kamason, London UK

Abortion is completely illegal! The Law which is given to man is "thou shall not kill" so, please which part of that Law don't we understand?
Uche, London

My opinion to this issue is an emphatic 'NO'. I mean abortion should not be legalised. Reason: It will cause a loss to the entire world, because if good persons like you and I were aborted I wonder what would have been of the BBC NEWS and contributors like me. I think the issue of abortion should not be a problem, we should talk on how to end maternal/infant mortality and not hot to increase it, because abortion is one of its causes.
Aiya Timothy Abhumhen, P/H, R/S, Nigeria

Men in Africa ought to learn that there is more to promiscuity
Abubakar Ibrahim, Holland
Perhaps men in African ought to learn that there is more to promiscuity than just the sex they enjoy. They can sow wild oats anywhere but they should try and be responsible so the illegal abortion would be reduced if not scrapped.
Abubakar Ibrahim, Antwerp

It may be every woman's right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to full term, legalizing it will not necessarily overcome the dangers. Other ills, including malpractices, from under qualified personnel need to be dealt with. The question of promiscuity also should not arise - if, for instance, the AIDS pandemic here has not stopped promiscuity, what more promiscuity is there to fear in relation to pregnancy and abortion?
Jen, Kisumu, Kenya

I think abortion should be legal. This, in my opinion, would reduce the death rates of the women who do abort in hide-out places. The circumstances of abortion should be examined before it is performed
Habib Mponezya, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

I am of the view that abortion should never be legalised and my reasons are very simple. It is very clear that the legalisation of abortion is going to open windows for other evil acts such as murder, trafficking in human parts and human sacrifices. Legalising abortion means legalising these chains of crimes linked to it.
Rev Br Stanislaus Nsotaka, Cameroonian in Nairobi

Absolutely! It should be every woman's right to decide whether or not she wants a baby, when she wants one, and with whom. Bear in mind that most of our laws were created during an era of male dominance. They were thus created by people who never experienced child birth and by people who did not have to take care of children born out of wedlock. Legalising abortion does not mean that all women will abort their pregnancies. It just means that those who choose to have abortions will be assisted by qualified personnel.
Agnes Gathoni, Tanzania

It's a personal choice
Mutswashe, Zimbabwe/USA
I think it's a personal choice and no man can make a decision like that for any woman. I think circumstances and situations usually are the driving forces behind abortions. I know in Zimbabwe it was illegal and even though the law said no many people did it and died doing it without medical help.
Mutswashe, USA/Zimbabwean

Abortion should be legal. This will reduce deaths. Women will not have to be subjected to gruesome, outdated and painful means of abortion.
Jackie Sanaipei , Kampala

Without mincing words, abortion should be legalized. Rather than allowing women to die in the hands of quack doctors. If it is legalised, it will not encourage promiscuity. There are a lot of birth control methods out there. They should visit a specialist in order to know what is right for them. We cannot afford to lose our women anymore. Those who are not dead are barren for life.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

Having been taught that abortion was wrong by my Catholic school, I don't think I could have one myself. However I don't think that they should be illegal as too many women die or suffer complications following visits to the back street clinics.
Rachel Phillips, Berkshire


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific