Madagascar, formerly known as the Malagasy Republic, is the fourth largest island in the world. It was a French colony until it gained independence in 1960, and has remained desperately poor. With a population of 20 million (2008 estimate), it has a birth rate of 41.4 per 1,000 and an infant mortality rate of 75.2 per 1,000 live births. The maternal mortality rate is 550 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Abortion is available in Madagascar only to save the woman's life, but illegal and self-induced abortions are believed to be widespread, and hospitals treat many women suffering from incomplete abortion. In 2001, 27.1 percent of women aged 15–49 reporting using contraceptives, including 18.3 percent using modern methods. The legal age of consent to marriage was raised ...

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