Sierra Leone just legalized abortion – and it's going to save women's lives.

As politicians in the U.S. try to take away abortion rights from its citizens, Sierra Leone just did the opposite.

In 2015 alone, state legislators in the U.S. introduced nearly 400 bills to restrict abortion access. Meanwhile, Sierra Leone just made the procedure legal.

On Dec. 8, 2015, Sierra Leone's parliament overwhelmingly passed the Safe Abortion Act, lifting a 154-year-old ban on abortion.


Abortion had been illegal in Sierra Leone since 1861 (before the lightbulb was invented!). Repealing the law has the potential to save many women's lives, as Sierra Leoneans know all too well what happens when women don't have access to the resources and care they need.

Women taking to the streets to support the Safe Abortion Act. Image via Ipas, used with permission.

Sierra Leone leads the world in maternal mortality, which isn't a statistic any country should be proud of.

1 in 70 women in Sierra Leone die during or shortly after childbirth. One-third of those deaths are due to complications from unsafe abortions, according to the World Health Organization.

"Practically everyone in Sierra Leone knows someone who has been affected in some way by unsafe abortion — people have lost wives, daughters, and love[d] ones," said Val Tucker, from the reproductive rights group Ipas.

No woman with an unwanted pregnancy should have to resort to visiting an unskilled person in unhygienic conditions to get the abortion she needs. But with the procedure banned, that was what many chose to do. And the dire outcome of illegal, unsafe abortions isn't specific to Sierra Leone.

Other countries where abortion has been legalized show how many more women's lives are saved when they have access to the procedure in a clean, safe space.

Photo by U.K. Department for International Development/Flickr.

It turns out abortion-related deaths go way down in countries with less restrictive laws (1 or fewer per 100,000 childbirths) than in countries with more restrictive abortion laws (34 deaths per 100,000 childbirths).

That was the case when abortion became legal in the United States in 1973. Pregnancy-related deaths and hospitalizations due to complications of unsafe abortion effectively ended. The same thing happened recently when abortion law was reformed in Ethiopia.

"We don’t see the tragedy of severe abortion complication and death any more in this hospital, it has become something of the past," one Ethiopian doctor noted to Ipas.

Image via Ipas, used with permission.

It goes to show that restricting access to abortion doesn't stop abortion from happening — it only makes it unsafe.

Having safe and legal access will undoubtedly save women's lives in Sierra Leone. And there's something that could save even more: putting sexual and reproductive health information more out in the open. As 44% of 18-year-old girls in Sierra Leone are married, taboos on sex only keep people in the dark. Access to contraception and other sexual health services can play a significant role in the success of the country's future, and luckily organizations like Ipas are leading the way.

Legalizing abortion 154 years later is better than never. This move will help women and families in Sierra Leone decide what's best for their own futures, and it shows the progress the world around us is making.

Politicians in the U.S. should take note.

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The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Images via Canva and Unsplash

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