Unsafe abortion is common in Tanzania and is a major cause of maternal death

In the first nationally representative study of the incidence of abortion and the provision of postabortion care in Tanzania, researchers found that clandestine abortion is common and is a major contributor to maternal death and injury. The study, conducted by researchers at the U.S.-based Guttmacher Institute and Tanzania’s National Institute for Medical Research and Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, found that an estimated 405,000 abortions were performed in the country in 2013, the vast majority of which were clandestine procedures that put women’s well-being at risk. Because of an abortion law that is both highly restrictive and ambiguous, Tanzanian women generally seek clandestine abortions that are unsafe.

“Recognizing that unsafe abortion is a leading cause of maternal death, the Tanzanian government has expanded the availability of postabortion care over the past decade, but significant gaps still exist and most women do not receive the care they need,” said Sarah C. Keogh, senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute and the study’s lead author. “This study identifies many of those gaps and will inform strategies to ensure that every Tanzanian woman who needs it can access lifesaving postabortion care.”