Article 14(2)(c) of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women enjoins States Parties to take appropriate measures "to protect the reproductive rights of women by authorising medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the foetus." This paper considers the implications of Article 14 for access to safe, legal abortion. It is submitted that Article 14 has the potential to impact positively on regional abortion law, policy, and practice in 3 main areas. First, it takes forward the global consensus on combating abortion as a major public health danger. Second, it provides African countries with not just an incentive, but also an imperative for reforming abortion laws in a transparent manner. Third, if implemented in the context of a treaty that centers on the equality and non-discrimination of women, Article 14 has the potential to contribute toward transforming access to abortion from a crime and punishment model to a reproductive health model.
Copyright 2010 International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.