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Landmark Move for Women in Benin

Although there is no official data on unwanted pregnancies in Benin, activists say women such as Ismail are forced to keep pregnancies because of the inaccessibility to safe abortions. The health ministry estimates that complications from unsafe abortion cause about 20 percent of maternal deaths. Until last week, access to abortion in Benin was legally allowed only if the pregnancy endangered the life of the pregnant woman, was a result of rape, or an incestuous relationship. But in a landmark move on October 20, following a long parliamentary session, the majority of the country’s lawmakers voted to legalise abortion. Lawyer Dele Ahounou said under the new legislation, women are allowed to have an abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy if it is going to cause a material situation, moral distress, affect their education or professional lives.