The aim of this paper is to assess The Gambia’s laws on abortion. It argues that the restrictive laws
on abortion are less a function of religious doctrine and more due to the historical and contemporary
structure of the Gambian state, influenced by autocratic rule. As such, the current shift from an
authoritarian regime to a democratic one suggests that there may be potential for legal mobilization in
the advancement of women’s sexual and reproductive rights, including broadening the legal grounds for
abortion. In order to achieve the right to safe abortion, the article suggests that a critical mass of support
through collaborative networking between parliamentarians, health professionals, human rights
activists, the media, and women’s rights supporters is needed. Advocacy for expanding the grounds for
safe abortion would be premised on international norms and standards, as well as support for research
on the magnitude of unsafe abortion and its impact, while addressing the sociocultural context. These
different strategies should be adopted to expand access to safe, legal abortion in The Gambia.
This article is based partially on discussions from
the National Coalition Building Meeting on Sexual
and Reproductive Health and Rights, which was
held in The Gambia on May 4, 2019.