A law newly passed in Togo expands abortion rights, legalizing abortion in cases of rape or incest and when the fetus is at risk of a serious medical condition. Previously, abortion was only legal to protect the mother's life or physical health.
As of April 2005, only three of 53 African countries—Cape Verde, South Africa and Tunisia—allow unrestricted rights to abortion. The majority of African countries do not allow the practice unless a doctor determines that the mother's life or health is at stake. Togo now joins Mali and Sudan, where, in addition to exceptions to save a mother's life, there are also exceptions for rape and incest. The new law, however, includes harsh penalties for those involved in an illegal abortion.
According to the United Nations, less than 10 percent of married women in Togo use contraception and the fertility rate is six children per woman, Reuters reports.
Media Resources: Reuters, 12/29/06; Center for Reproductive Rights, April 2005