Abortion in Botswana is only legal if the abortion will save the woman's life, if the pregnancy gravely endangers the woman's physical or mental health, or if it is a result of rape or incest.[1] In Botswana, abortions that meet these requirements must be performed within the first 16 weeks of pregnancy in a government hospital and must be approved by two physicians.[1]

Impact of restrictive abortion laws

Though women in Botswana are recognized as having some of the best access to abortions in Sub-Saharan Africa because of these exceptions, many women are still resorting to unsafe abortions and self-induced abortions, commonly leading to maternal death.[1]

Socio-cultural impacts on abortion

In Botswana, many families still follow the lobolo custom where men pay a woman's family in order to take her as a bride.[2] This has established an expectation that husbands have paid for and own their wives' bodies, including their reproductive rights.[2] Even though this sentiment may lead to pregnancy that is a result of rape, hospitals and clinics are unlikely to approve marital rape cases as justifying abortion, as cultural norms suggest husbands are entitled to their wives' bodies.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Abortion Policies: Afghanistan to France. United Nations Publications. 2001. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Smith, Stephanie S. (Dec 2013). "Reproductive health and the question of abortion in Botswana: a review". African Journal of Reproductive Health. 17 (4). Retrieved 4 December 2014.