Dr Brookman-Amissah with her  2023 Right Livelihood Laureate award
Dr Brookman-Amissah with her 2023 Right Livelihood Laureate award

Dr Brookman-Amissah calls for action on abortion

A former Minister of Health, Dr Eunice Brookman-Amissah, has said 30,000 women dying from abortion, a totally preventable cause of maternal mortality annually across the world, is unacceptable and needs to be resolved.


She likened the problem to 100 jumbo jet planes fully loaded with women crashing from the sky and killing everyone of them saying it was unacceptable especially “when we know how to prevent the carnage” and called for a country level action.

She was speaking after receiving the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, for her work in reducing preventable maternal deaths from unsafe abortions in Africa at a gala event in Stockholm, Sweden, last Wednesday.


Dr Brookman-Amissah received the award alongside three other laureates from Cambodia, Europe and Kenya, recognised as courageous change makers.

She was recognised for her work over the past two decades in leading advocacy for policy change and access to safe abortions for women and girls in Africa.

Of the over 41 million abortions worldwide, 25 million abortions are unsafe and 6.2 million or a full 25 per cent are in Africa alone.

And of the 39,000 deaths globally from unsafe abortion, 25,000 making 60 per cent are in Sub-Saharan Africa — accounting for 30 per cent of maternal mortality in the region.

“This is not acceptable, because all the knowledge and technologies to end unsafe abortions are known and are available”.

Leveraging her experiences as a physician, former politician and diplomat, Dr Brookman-Amissah’s work at Ipas, the international organisation working to bring about reproductive justice and to eliminate preventable maternal mortality, centered on addressing the root causes of unsafe abortions and finding viable solutions at the national and regional levels.


Through her work at high political level with the Africa Union Commission and its agencies, including the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights and the health agencies of the regional Economic blocs such as the ECOWAS health agency WAHO (West Africa Health Organisation), access to safe abortion has become normalised in the regional agenda.

Also, several countries including Tunisia, Cape Verde, Republic of South Africa, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Benin, Sierra Leone, Eswatini and Kenya have reviewed their laws to increase legal indications for abortion and many more such as Ghana and Zambia are providing safe services within their laws, while others are going through the process for a legal reform.

It is estimated that through her leadership in this area, maternal deaths from unsafe abortion have reduced by 40 per cent.

In her acceptance speech, Dr Brookman-Amissah said she was happy that the highly stigmatised and taboo subject of abortion was finally out of the closet in this very public manner and expressed the hope that it would spur countries on to review their restrictive laws and make safe legal services available to all women who needed it and bring an end to carnage of preventable deaths.


The Executive Director at Right Livelihood, Ole von Uexkull, in a remark said “Dr Brookman-Amissah is a legend and a reference point when talking about women’s reproductive rights and access to safe abortion in Africa, a continent where more than two-thirds of all abortions remain unsafe,” .

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