Abortion in Uganda

Uganda country flag

Abortion in Uganda is restrictive unless performed by a licensed medical doctor in a situation where the woman’s life is deemed to be at risk. With women lacking access to safe and legal abortions, many of them turn to unsafe abortion practices. The Ugandan Ministry of Health in the Annual Health Sector Performance Report of 2017-2018 estimates that 5.3% of all maternal deaths result from abortion complications [1].

There are many legal and socioeconomic barriers to safe abortion services, which often result in women using unsafe abortion methods and being deterred from seeking post-abortion medical care [2].

Is Abortion Legal in Uganda?

Although the Government of Uganda ratified the Maputo Protocol on the rights of women, it did so with reservations to article 14(2)c on reproductive health and abortion “in cases of sexual assault, incest, rape and when pregnancy endangers a mother’s mental and physical well-being” [3]. The government has resisted supporting an enabling environment to advance the rights of women with abortion-care needs.

Inducing abortion is only allowed on medical grounds for the purposes of saving the life of a pregnant woman [4]. No statutory instruments operationalize this provision, however, and law enforcement agencies continue to use the Penal Code Act Cap. 120, which criminalizes the procurement of abortion and aiding a woman to have one [5]. National policy responses are made in light of the law, and consequently, Uganda’s sexual and reproductive health guidelines only provide for PAC services.

A total of 80% of the Ugandan population are Christian [6], and faith-based institutions, particularly the Catholic Church, strongly influence abortion discourses. In 2016, policy reforms aimed at preventing maternal deaths and mortality due to unsafe abortion were withdrawn due to contention among stakeholders [7].

Restrictions impact both health workers and women of all ages who are harassed, intimidated, arrested, convicted and imprisoned [4]. This influences the decisions of many women to self-induce or seek support in unsafe environments, with people who lack adequate skills and expertise; as a result, these women are at elevated risk of perforation, sepsis and death [8].

Legal restrictions prevent state and non-state actors from developing health system capacities to respond to abortion-care needs, and this results in discrimination against women with abortion care needs other than post-abortion care (PAC) as permitted by policy [9].

What Types of Abortion are Available in Uganda?

Uganda provides both medical and surgical abortions. For medical abortion (MA), a combination of two drugs, Mifepristone and Misoprostol is used. Surgical procedures that are available are Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) and Dilation and Evacuation (D&E).

What is the Abortion Rate in Uganda? How Many Women Have Abortions?

Although Ugandan law allows abortion to save a woman’s life, and national guidelines permit abortion under additional circumstances—including in cases of fetal anomaly, rape and incest, and if the woman is HIV-positive—a safe and legal abortion is difficult to obtain.

There are about 274,500 abortions every year in Uganda. This translates to a rate of 48/1000 in women aged 15-49 (30 per 100 live births). Of the 274,500 abortions done, only 90,000 (25%) are admitted due to abortion related complications from having unsafe abortions. Post-abortion care costs about USD 130, per patient, culminating in total annual costs of nearly USD 14 million [2].

Abortion With Pills (Medical Abortion) in Uganda

Are the Abortion Pills (Mifepristone and Misoprostol) Available in Uganda?

Mifepristone and Misoprostol are available in Uganda.

How Late Into a Pregnancy Can the Abortion Pills Be Used?

Abortion pills in Uganda can be used for pregnancies up to 13 weeks of gestation.

Do I Need a Prescription for Mifepristone or Misoprostol?

Many pharmacists do sell the pills over the counter without a prescription; however, they do not often provide proper instructions on eligibility, dosage and usage for a medical abortion.
Prescriptions can be given in Uganda at registered public and private health facilities and at certain NGO-supported clinics.
Prescriptions can be given for Misoprostol only for other uses, such as PUD treatment, but not for abortion treatment.

What Brands of Abortion Pill Are Popular in Uganda?

There are two types of abortion pills available in Uganda.

A combination of Misoprostol and Mifepristone is available under the brand names: MA Kare, Divabo and Mariprist.
Misoprostol alone is available under brand names like Miso Kare, Cytotec, Misoclear, Kontrac, and Misoprost.

Mifepristone is a drug that blocks a hormone called progesterone that is needed for a pregnancy to continue. MA Kare is an example of a brand name for a drug that combines both Misoprostol and Mifepristone.

Ma-kare tablets for abortion in Uganda
Miso Kare tablets for abortion in Uganda
Ma-kare Drug for abortion in Uganda
Ma-kare abortion pills in Uganda
Mifeso abortion pills in Uganda

UGX 25,000 to 30,000

Avertiso abortion pills in Uganda

UGX 6,000

Kontrac tablets for medical abortions in Uganda
Mariprist pills for medical abortion in Uganda
Misoclear pills for medical abortion in Uganda
Misoprost tablets available in Uganda
Cytotec abortion pills available in Uganda
Divabo drug for abortion in Uganda

How Much Do the Abortion Pills Cost in Uganda?

There is no fixed cost for these products. Abortion with pills can cost anywhere between 20,000 and 40,000 Ugandan shillings (for Misoprostol only) and 50,000 to 100,000 Ugandan shillings (for Mifepristone and Misoprostol).

Who Can I Contact for More Information on Abortion in Uganda? [10]

Community Health Rights Network (Coherinet) Aunt KAKI Sexual Reproductive Health Services and Rights Information
Toll-free helpline provides nonjudgmental and clear information about the choices available to women of reproductive age from the priority and key affected population groups from the community at grass-root levels.
Toll Free line: 0800 24 72 47 (MTN) / 0800 34 73 47 (Airtel)
Facebook: https://web.facebook.com/coherinet/

Marie Stopes Uganda
For affordable contraception, post-abortion care and pain management at all health facilities under Marie Stopes.
Contact Centre Phone Number 1: +93 75 2220 000
Contact Centre Phone Number 2: +256 800 120 333
WhatsApp Number: +256707713301
SMS: 8228

Reproductive Health Uganda
For affordable contraception, post-abortion care and pain management at all health facilities under Reproductive Health Uganda.
Tel: +256 31 2207100
Website: www.rhu.or.ug

Inclusive Health Bureau
For affordable contraception, post-abortion care and pain management at all health facilities under IHB. IHB was registered with the mandate to improve sexual and reproductive health status for all.

Naguru Teenage Center
This center provides all elements of comprehensive abortion care, as well as other medical services, including sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnosis and treatment, pregnancy testing, antenatal services, menstrual complications, post-abortion care, infertility, nutrition and hygiene.

St. Augustine Community Health Center (SACH)
Contraception, post-abortion care and pain management, sexually transmitted infections (STI) management, antenatal services, infertility, menstrual complications and cervical cancer screening are all affordable at health facilities under SACH.
Contact information: +256-703692281/+256-782141191

The Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Uganda (AOGU) advance reproductive health services through excellent practice, education, research, collaborations and advocacy.

Turget Uganda
Tel: +256-772688050
https://www.turgetug.org/
Address: Plot 279, Willis Road, Namirembe Resource Centre, Namirembe Kampala, Uganda
Toll Free: 0800100072

In-Clinic Abortion in Uganda

What are the Different Types of in-Clinic Abortion Procedures Available in Uganda?

Uganda provides both medical and surgical abortion services.

For medical abortion (MA), a combination of two drugs, Mifepristone and Misoprostol is used.
The surgical procedures available are Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) and Dilation and Evacuation (D&E).

Medical Abortion (MA) by pill for pregnancies above 13 weeks.
Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) for pregnancies up to 14 weeks.
Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) for pregnancies up to 24 weeks (NB: Usually performed at 12-16 weeks).

Post-abortion care is legal and available in public and private health facilities across Uganda.

Where Can I get a Manual Vacum Aspiration (MVA) Abortion in Uganda?

Manual Vacum Aspiration (MVA) abortions can be performed in Uganda at most registered public and private health facilities, at certain NGO-supported clinics, and at some franchise-based service-providing organizations.

How Much Does Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) Cost in Uganda?

MVA can cost between 150,000 and 300,000 Ugandan shillings depending on the facility where you get it done. Public facilities have subsidized prices, unlike private health facilities.

How Do I Get More Information?

For additional information and support, you can get in touch with our trained counselors via live chat at www.safe2choose.org or email: info@safe2choose.org. Counseling is available in both English and Luganda.

LEARN ABOUT YOUR COUNTRY

Authors

by the safe2choose team and supporting experts at carafem, based on the 2019 recommendations by Ipas, and the 2012 recommendations by the WHO.

[1] “The Uganda Demographic Health Survey 2016.” dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/FR333/FR333.pdf Accessed January 2022.

[2] “Abortion and Post-Abortion Care in Uganda.” Guttmacher Institute www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/abortion-and-postabortion-care-uganda. Accessed January 2022.

[3] CEHURD, 2016, p. 23

[4] HRAPF, 2016

[5] Mulumba et al., 2017

[6] Larsson et al., 2015

[7] Cleeve et al., 2016

[8] Aantjes et al., 2018

[9] Mutua et al., 2018

[10] “Abortion Laws in Uganda.” How to Use Abortion Pill, www.howtouseabortionpill.org/abortion-laws-by-country/uganda/. Accessed January 2022.