Sweden commends the authorities in Liberia and the strong advocacy from local civil society organizations for the ongoing efforts to reform the public health law to enhance access to safe abortion as a health care. This will remove abortion from the penal code where it is currently regulated and criminalized.
Access to safe and legal abortion has been identified as a critical intervention by the Ministry of Health of Liberia to tackle maternal deaths, one of the highest in Africa.
Liberia’s efforts are in line with WHO 2022 Abortion Care Guideline which recommends States to fully decriminalize abortion. This means removing abortion from all penal/criminal laws, not applying other criminal offences (e.g. murder, manslaughter) to abortion, and ensuring there are no criminal penalties for having, assisting with, providing information about, or providing abortion, for all relevant actors.
In addition, the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review 4-15 May 2020 recommends that Liberia guarantee safe, legal, and effective access to abortion and ensure that criminal sanctions were not applied against those seeking abortion or against medical service providers that assist them.
Furthermore, the Maputo Protocol under Article 14 guarantee right to health for women, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, specifically the right for women to control their fertility; the right to decide whether to have children, the number of children and the spacing of children; and the right to choose any method of contraception.
Sweden’s support to sexual reproductive health and rights in Liberia and globally is backed by the evidence that shows that SRHR are the bedrock for growth and prosperity for all individuals and societies, and countries and societies investing in people, their rights, and their choices, have proven that is the path to well-being, prosperity, and peace.
The foundation of the Swedish support to SRHR in Liberia and globally is that the achievement of sexual and reproductive health relies on the realization of sexual and reproductive rights, which are based on the human rights of all individuals to: have their bodily integrity, privacy, and personal autonomy respected; freely define their own sexuality, including sexual orientation and gender identity and expression; decide whether and when to be sexually active; choose their sexual partners; have safe and pleasurable sexual experiences; decide whether, when, and whom to marry; decide whether, when, and by what means to have a child or children, and how many children to have; have access over their lifetimes to the information, resources, services, and support necessary to achieve all the above, free from discrimination, coercion, exploitation, and violence.