A participant at the open mic displays her support for abortion

As the world marked international safe abortion day on Saturday 28th September 2019, enthusiastic Ugandan youth and She Decides Uganda commrades dared not be left behind.

With much excitement these young leaders gathered at Uganda Youth And Adolescent Health Forum’s “Youth Hub” for the She Decides Uganda Open Mic hangout by the bonfire to join the rest of the world in commemoration of the International Safe Abortion Day 2019. Ready to bust myths and misconception and show support for safe abortion as a fundamental reproductive right for all women and girls, not even the evening of heavy downpour could stop their unapologetic spirit of creating a new normal where She Decides without question.

The lights and the smoke from the bonfire transformed the UYAHF compound into a serial yet homely place to be for many of these young people who are also She Decides Uganda comrades.

By 7:00 pm, majority of the expected young people had arrived and were seated by the fire networking and getting to know each other better. To liven the mood, the UYAHF change champions took the young people through a game with a series of questions on abortion aimed at understanding their opinions, thoughts and beliefs, for example they were asked if abortion should be made legal and why they thought so, if they thought abortion is a basic human right, if you were pregnant and you wanted to get an abortion but your boy friend is not in support- would you still go ahead and do it, if you were pregnant against your choice would you opt for an abortion, would you speak to your parents about it, or who would you speak too, if you wanted an abortion? Parents or peers? and so on.

Participant were split into groups to discuss and answer these questions and tasked to defend their answers.

Open mic discussion between the youth who attended the event

Abortion should be made legal because you should not give birth to children you can not look after, especially when you don’t have a job to feed yourself and them” says Mary Kirunda, a law student at Makerere university.

After a round of heated arguments between the supporters and opposers of abortion and anything relating to it, a few questions were answered by the UYAHF change champions, however Dr. Ben Kibirige a gynecologist answered the questions in depth and extensively, and his session was exceedingly engaging with jokes, real life statistics, and real life stories about abortion.

Some of the youth who attended showing support for safe abortion.

“ Abortion is a very good if done right by a trained professional in a professional setting but is a ticket to the grave when done unsafely by a fake doctor just because you want to save money” says Dr. Ben Kibirige.

According to a study published by Guttmacher Institute an estimated 57,000 abortions took place among Ugandan adolescents in 2013 and these were by girls ages 15-19. The research also found that adolescents seeking postabortion care, were more likely than married women to experience severe complications.

Although Uganda’s laws allows abortion to save a woman’s life and national guidelines permit abortion under additional circumstances—including in cases of fetal anomaly, rape and incest, and if the woman is HIV-positive—safe and legal abortion is difficult to obtain. As a result, many women resort to unsafe abortion, which accounts for more than 10% of all maternal deaths in Uganda. An estimated 314,300 abortions occurred in Uganda in 2013 among all age-groups, and more than 93,000 women were hospitalized for complications from unsafe abortion.

As a strong call, young people underscored the urgent need for government of Uganda decriminalise all restrictive abortion laws, and put in place strategies to address abortion stigma. Additionally, young people called for making safe abortion services avaiable and accessible for all women and girls as well as comprehensive sexuality education and family planning that is both age-appropriate and medically accurate.

After all the serious and informative words were done, then the fun begun, and as they say, no African event is complete without a feast. The participants enjoyed goat’s meat besides the crackling flames with the music in the background making for a simple but fancy learning experience. This went on for an hour and the participants were bid farewell.

Compiled by UYAHF comms team. info@uyahf.com