Secular and Religious Approaches to Abortion in Ethiopia: A Comparative Ethical Analysis

Abortion practices and law remain very controversial in many African countries, including Ethiopia. Often, religious stakeholders endorse restrictive approaches whereas secular stakeholders advocate liberalization. It is unfortunate that argumentative stalemates prevent meaningful cooperation for the sake of the common good. However, a basic contention of this study is that religious and secular approaches to abortion may have more in common than is typically recognized. The aim of the study, therefore, is to provide a comparative ethical analysis on abortion and abortion-related practices in Ethiopia, with particular emphasis on adolescent pregnancy, unsafe abortions and abortion-related dilemmas experienced by healthcare workers. (For the sake of simplicity, henceforth all these abortion-related issues are referred to as “abortion”). By a comparative ethical analysis is here meant an analysis making use of three different normative approaches. The first two approaches belong to the two largest monetesthic religions in Ethiopia, namely the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) and Islam. Their religious doctrines and normative teachings, in addition to the views of church officials and affiliated healthcare workers will be studied. The third approach will be the human development approach in secular bioethics which is both theoretically appealing and has gained great influence in the UN system.

The aim is to explore whether these normative approaches when combined might be of help in providing a more context-sensitive and deeper understanding of the situation of abortion in Ethiopia and in constructing a sustainable ethical framework to address moral dilemmas in abortion. Whether such a unified ethical framework is achievable is an open question – indeed, a main research question for the project.

Prosjektbeskrivelse med vedlegg


  • Ja


  • Nei


Intern fremleggelse - Ja

Godkjent av: Reidar Pedersen

NSD - Ja 2 filer

Tidspunkt for anonymisering og sletting av dataene

  • Anonymisering: desember 2020

REK - Ikke behov 1 fil


Morten Magelssen

Ansvarlig enhet

Senter for medisinsk etikk



  • Ph.d.-prosjekt

Helsefaglig forskning

  • Ja


  • Ja


  • Start: februar 2017
  • Slutt: desember 2020
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