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Mozambique Set to Liberalise Abortion Law

ing and violently shaking.

"As her situation got worse, I insisted that she be taken to the A and E (accident and emergency) at the central hospital.

We then had trouble finding a car, and when we finally arrived, the doctors told us that it was too late.

My daughter died." According to the health ministry, 30 percent of women admitted to Maputo's main hospital following a backstreet abortion end up dead.

Figures compiled by the UN's World Health Organisation show that some 68,000 women die annually due to unsafe abortions, most in developing countries such as Mozambique -- which is still reeling from a devastating 1976-1992 civil war that claimed up to one million lives.

The influential Catholic Church is firmly against decriminalisation, with the Archbishop of Maputo, Francisco Chimoio, even declaring last month that women who terminate pregnancy can expect to "live their lives in fear of divine punishment." The admonition has not daunted women's groups.

"We should follow the path that has been taken by Portugal in decriminalising abortion," after a February referendum there, said Graca Sand, who works for the Forum Mulher, a charity for impoverished women.

Abortion still remains taboo in much of Africa where many countries have a blanket ban.

Although South Africa does allow termination of pregnancy on demand, it is illegal in Mozambique's other neighbours, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

According to the Mozambican health ministry, 58 percent of women who have had an abortion did so at home, very often without the help of anyone with medical training.

Rosa Mateus, 23, who works as a waitress, survived, but says she can never have children again.

"I fell pregnant at a time when I was struggling on my own with my two other children ...

After talking to some of my friends, I went to see a pharmacist who gave me some drugs which I took at
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