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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.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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RumorGuard by The News Literacy Project.

The 2016 election was a watershed moment when misinformation online became a serious problem and had enormous consequences. Even though social media sites have tried to slow the spread of misleading information, it doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

A NewsGuard report from 2020 found that engagement with unreliable sites between 2019 and 2020 doubled over that time period. But we don’t need studies to show that misinformation is a huge problem. The fact that COVID-19 misinformation was such a hindrance to stopping the virus and one-third of American voters believe that the 2020 election was stolen is proof enough.

What’s worse is that according to Pew Research, only 26% of American adults are able to distinguish between fact and opinion.

To help teach Americans how to discern real news from fake news, The News Literacy Project has created a new website called RumorGuard that debunks questionable news stories and teaches people how to become more news literate.

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A mom describes her tween son's brain. It's a must-read for all parents.

"Sometimes I just feel really angry and I don’t know why."

This story originally appeared on 1.05.19


It started with a simple, sincere question from a mother of an 11-year-old boy.

An anonymous mother posted a question to Quora, a website where people can ask questions and other people can answer them. This mother wrote:

How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won't tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I've already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?

It's a familiar scenario for those of us who have raised kids into the teen years. Our sweet, snuggly little kids turn into moody middle schoolers seemingly overnight, and sometimes we're left reeling trying to figure out how to handle their sensitive-yet-insensitive selves.


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