Author: Satang Nabaneh
Project Officer, Women Rights Unit, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
In the Gambian context, the right of women to an informed choice and access to family planning and appropriate health-care service remains contentious due to the socio-cultural and religions dimensions. Being a society where deep-seated traditions and the Islamic religion play a major part in the life of a person and society, issues of sexuality and procreation are generally interpreted accordingly.
The Gambia has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Africa, which criminalises abortion based on colonially inherited penal code (Criminal Code, Act no. 25 of 1933). The Criminal Code follows the abortion law as provided in the English Offences against the Person Act of 1861 and subsequent interpretation by the Courts such as in the 1938 case of R v Bourne (3 ALL ER 615,  1 KB 687).