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Self-Managed Abortion in Africa: The Decriminalization Imperative in Regional Human Rights Standards.

Self-managed abortion holds particular promise for revolutionizing people's access to quality reproductive care in Africa, where the burden of abortion-related mortality is the highest globally and where abortion remains criminalized, in violation of various internationally and regionally recognized human rights. Increasingly safe and effective, self-managed medication abortion is still subject to many restrictions, including criminal laws, across the continent. Drawing on recent evidence and human rights developments around self-managed abortion, this paper explores whether and to what extent Africa's regional legal framework builds a normative basis for the decriminalization of self-managed abortion. We conclude that the region's articulation of the rights to dignity, to freedom from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and to nondiscrimination, among others, provides strong grounds for decriminalization, both concerning individuals who need abortions and concerning the constellation of actors who enable self-management.

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