According to the World Health organization, there are nineteen million unsafe abortion procedures worldwide each year. Four million of these are in sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, nearly seventy thousand women die annually, thirty thousand of them in Africa. Millions more are injured.
The problem has brought more than one hundred medical professionals, government officials, lawmakers, and activists to Addis Ababa where they will try to find some solutions.
Organizers of the conference say, "Every African country legally permits abortion in at least some circumstance, such as in cases of rape, incest or to save a woman's life. But there is a huge chasm between women's right to legal abortion and their ability to obtain safe abortion services."
For example, in Ethiopia, more women die in hospitals from "complications of unsafe, usually illegal abortion than from almost any other cause." More than seventy percent of them "suffering serious problems after back street abortions die. Most are between the ages of sixteen and twenty."
One of the groups sponsoring the meeting is IPAS, which campaigns for women's sexual and reproductive rights. Barbara Crane, IPAS' executive vice-president, spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the scope of the problem.
Click the above links to download or listen to De Capua interview with Ms. Crane.