Abortion in Ethiopia: Not Yet Rain

Ipas is an international organization that among other things, works to reduce abortion-related deaths and injuries around the world. This past Wednesday they released a short documentary, directed by Lisa Russell, about abortion in Ethiopia called Not Yet Rain. Being an eager beaver when it comes to documentaries about women’s sexual and reproductive rights and health, I watched the film online as soon as it was available. Yes – the whole film is available online, so you can watch and process without having to go to a film festival or other public presentation. You can watch the film embedded right here on Akimbo, or click on over to the Not Yet Rain website to watch it there surrounded by lovely graphic design.

Ethiopia has the most liberal abortion laws in Africa; since 2004 women have been able to obtain abortions on the following conditions:

     when the pregnancy results from rape or incest;
     when continuance of the pregnancy endangers the health or life of the woman or the fetus;
     in cases of fetal abnormalities;
     for women with physical or mental disabilities;
     for minors who are physically or psychologically unprepared to raise a child;
     in the case of grave and imminent danger that can be averted only through immediate pregnancy termination.

Learn more about abortion in Ethiopia in this PDF factsheet from Ipas.

One of the undercurrents of the film that I’ve been thinking about a lot since I saw it earlier this week is the relationship between traditional abortion practices and modern medical/surgical options. In the film we hear from a few abortion practitioners about procedures ranging from the steam of boiled herbs (traditional) to vacuum aspiration (modern). Legalization of abortion in Ethiopia means more above-the-board treatment that will on the whole be safer and better for women, but certainly there is a culture around women’s reproductive health that exists beyond medicine. How can information about procedures be incorporated into a rights-based approach to providing safe abortion?  Legislating access to safe abortion is only a piece of the puzzle.

Learn more about the International Women’s Health Coalition’s approach to a woman’s right to access safe abortion here.

As a web-geeky aside: I love that the Not Yet Rain website is bold and pretty, with easy and prominent buttons for the RSS feed, email updates, and sharing with friends via social networking sites.

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