Are abortion law and ICT policy at all connected?
In the midst of The Globe and Mail‘s recent series of articles on the prospects of African development, I came across a feature on abortion laws by African nation. Only four nations (Cape Verde, Reunion, South Africa and Tunisia) unconditionally allow abortion. Offhand and generally speaking, these nations are further along in their Internet penetration and ICT development than the African mean. With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to try and form a relationship between the leniency of abortion law and the presence of a national ICT policy. The scope of abortion law can serve as a rudimentary litmus test to measure a government’s level of progressiveness.
A cursory look at the list of at least 15 African countries believed to have national ICT policies in place yields the following:
- 3 of the 15 (Egypt, Kenya, Malawi) have very strict laws regarding abortion, or do not allow the practice
- 3 of the 15 (Swaziland, Botswana, Ghana) have slightly less strict laws (abortion is allowable for the mental health of the woman)
- 2 of the 15 (Tunisia, SA) allow abortion under normal circumstances
- 7 of the 15 only allow abortion to preserve physical health
So, approximately one-third of nations with national ICT policies have abortion laws that are more lenient than the continent mode, although in this case “more” means “barely”. In comparison, 12 out of 54 African nations (22%) either allow abortion without restriction, or do so for the sake of the mother’s mental health.
Are nations with national ICT policies were more forgiving in terms of abortion? In the end, not much of a relationship exists. Statistically, there may be a link between ICT framework and level of abortion law sensitivity. African governments tend to be socially conservative, but are relatively more technologically adventurous. Quite possibly, technological advancements are derived from a desire for economic prosperity – something that leaders do not see as linked with social change.
- mobile health benefits can at least prevent deaths from abortion by spreading awareness of the risks and symptoms of infection.
- advances in ICT can raise the status of women and therefore lead to law reform
- Africans can witness how other nations deal with important health issues through the Internet