Zambia was the first sub-Saharan African nation to liberalise its law in 1972, with the Termination of Pregnancy Act. The consent of three doctors is required, with most abortions being approved on social and economic grounds.

Complicated procedural requirements and inadequate services limit the number of legal abortions performed in Zambia. Despite the liberal abortion law, there numerous obstacles to obtaining a legal abortion and therefore a continued reliance on illegal abortion.

For example, the University Teaching Hospital is the only facility at Lusaka where a legal abortion can be obtained. Such facilities are almost non-existent in the rest of the country because of shortage of gynaecologists at provincial hospitals.

The requirement that three doctors consent to the abortion is difficult to satisfy because many hospitals do not have three doctors. Some doctors are reluctant to sign forms for religious and personal reasons.

The Government has expressed concern about the high incidence of illegal abortion in Zambia. Studies reveal it as a major cause of the high rate of maternal mortality.