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SAfAIDS Policy Brief: Malawi Preventing Unsafe Abortions among Young People in Malawi The Role of Effective Policies

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Although Malawi is by no means the only African country battling with the high occurrence and effects of unsafe abortions among young people, the situation illustrates the compound effects of restrictive abortion policy, societal stigma around young people’s sexuality and inadequate sexuality education, that prevent young people accessing and using contraceptives. At the same time, Malawi presents a case that is alive with possibility – the possibility of significantly reducing the incidence of unsafe abortion and the consequent illness and deaths, through the formulation and implementation of evidence-based policies regarding induced abortion and young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.

As this brief highlights, evidence abounds indicating that unsafe abortions occur most often where there are restrictive abortion laws and where there are structural and cultural barriers to contraceptive use. This evidence should be used in countries like Malawi to create responsive policies and programmes to avert unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions among young women.