Abortion is now legal in the Benin Republic.
The national assembly voted on Thursday 21 October to legalize the act which until now was prohibited except in exceptional circumstances.
From now on voluntary interruption of pregnancy may be authorized up to 12 weeks.
The country’s ministry of health claims the aim is to end clandestine abortions.
Every year in Benin, nearly 200 women die from complications of abortions, according to government figures.
The west African nation now joins four other African countries to legalize abortion: Tunisia in 1973, South Africa and Cape Verde in 1997 and Mozambique in 2014. Elsewhere in Africa abortion prohibition remains the norm.
At least 20 other Africa countries allow it if the mother’s life is in danger including in Nigeria. Nigeria’s criminal and penal codes specify stiff penalties for abortion including long jail terms. Other countries allow it only in cases of rape, incest or foetal malformation. In six other countries such as the Republic of Congo, Senegal and Egypt abortion is forbidden for whatsoever reasons.
The risk of infection and mortality in Africa from abortion remains among the highest in the world.
Christian and other religious conservatives in Benin Republic decried the new legislation arguing that abortion remains murder of infant babies in their mother’s womb,
Pro-Life advocates say human life commences at the moment of fertilization and conception and should be held sacrosanct.