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Sierra Leone president again blocks abortion legalization bill

[JURIST] Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma [official website] on Saturday again blocked a bill that would have legalized abortion in the country. The Safe Abortion Act of 2015 passed [Reuters report] with broad support in parliament [official website] in December would repeal the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861 [official summary], which only allows for abortion when the mother's health is at risk. The president, in a press release [press release] on International Woman's day, stated "[t]he definition of who is a medical practitioner among others is not clear in the Bill and we have made our comments."

Abortion access and reproductive healthcare [JURIST backgrounder] remain contentious issues worldwide. The High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland [official website] in November ruled [judgment] that Northern Ireland's abortion laws, which only allow abortion when the mother faces the risk of death or serious injury, are a violation of human rights [JURIST report]. ] El Salvador's complete ban on abortion [text, PDF, in Spanish] negatively affects [JURIST report] not only women and girls, but also their families, according to an Amnesty International report [press release] released the same month. A Dominican court in December blocked [JURIST report] a new law that would have decriminalized abortion if a pregnant woman's life was at risk, thus reinstating a total ban on abortion within the country. A judge for the US District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] in January that part of an abortion law requiring hospital admitting privileges for doctors who provide abortions is unconstitutional [JURIST report].

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