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Journalists Schooled about Positively Report on Abortion to Prevent Unsafe Abortion in Uganda.

Joshua Nahamya.

Mbarara.

Uganda’s media has been encouraged to focus on positive related stories to provide a safe atmosphere for safe abortion.

This was revealed during an interactive discussion dubbed ‘Advocacy for Prevention of Maternal Mortality and Morbidity project (APMM) held at lake view resort hotel, where journalists were equipped with skills and the role played towards positive reporting to make abortion safer for girls and mothers in Uganda.

The training facilitated by the Association of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Uganda (AOGU) attracted over 20 dozen media reporters from Mbarara at Lake View Hotel.

Leah kahunde, the BBC reporter who was also part of the trainers, appealed to a fellow to journalists to focus on positive stories about safe abortion rather than running for negative stories intended to marginalize abortion.

Kahunde says abortion in Uganda is under reported, blaming it on media which is shy despite the power it wields.

“Little academic attention has been directed at examining media framing of abortion messages aimed at younger demographics such as adolescents as well as the gendered differences of the effects of abortion coverage” She explains

Despite the limited empirical attention to abortion in the media, Kahunde reported that unsafe abortion continues to be a public health issue resulting in high morbidity and mortality rates especially among adolescents.

“This is especially true for sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where an estimated 2-5 million adolescents undergo unsafe abortion annually”

According to Prof Daniel Kaye, the Executive Director Assoc of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Uganda, the campaign is to strengthen coordinated sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) stakeholders and health system partners to advocate for safe abortion and improved access to Comprehensive Abortion Care (CAC).

Kaye says abortion in Uganda is a common practice for young girls, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic as a result of unexpected pregnancies.

Samuel Baker Wanadi, an advocate at Wagabaza & Co. Advocates, stated that abortion in Uganda is legally gazetted under articles 22, 33, 141, 142, 143 of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 (as amended) and the Penal Code Act.120.

“No person has the right to terminate the life of an unborn child except as maybe authorized” reads part of Article 22 (2) 

Wanadi says policies like the 2006 National Policy guidelines and service standards for sexual and reproductive health recommended that in some instances the women or girl should be assisted to terminate the pregnancy.

Such instances include; rape, incest, defilement, renal diseases, cervical cancer among others. 

In conclusion, Wanadi stressed that the law in Uganda does not entirely prohibit abortion but rather restricts it thus a call for journalists to report balanced stories on abortion.

“Parliament has not passed any other laws to spell out circumstances when abortion is lawful and regulated thus the penal code act remains the only law that has provisions on abortion, with a very narrow exception”. He said

According to 2017 AOGU statistics, an estimated 297,000 induced abortions are performed each year in Uganda at an annual abortion rate of 54 per 1,000 women aged 15-49 while more than half of all abortions are believed to be carried out by medically trained providers such as doctors, nurses, and midwives.

And each year, about 25 of every 1,000 women of childbearing age­­–a total of 85,000 women–are treated in medical facilities for abortion-related complications.

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