Addressing the causes of unsafe abortion including decriminalisation of abortion
Addressing the causes of unsafe abortion
The ability of women to access safe abortion is an important component and indicator of their sexual and reproductive health and rights, and of the autonomy they have in realising other basic human rights. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “abortion laws and services should protect the health and human rights of all women, including adolescents. They should not create situations that lead women and adolescents to seek unsafe abortion…The respect, protection, and fulfilment of human rights require that comprehensive regulations and policies be in place…to ensure that abortion is safe and accessible”. As a frequently neglected element of women’s health and rights, ending unsafe abortion is a priority issue for AmplifyChange. We want to see the decriminalisation of abortion and we support a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion.
Prevention of morbidity and mortality from unsafe abortion is best accomplished through work in several parallel areas. Work to prevent unwanted pregnancy through access to high quality, voluntary family planning education and services, accurate and comprehensive sex-positive education for young people and elimination of gender-based violence is important. However, there will always be women who experience unwanted or unintended pregnancies. Access to safe abortion services for those women who do not want to or cannot continue these pregnancies is critical. Data from around the world indicates that barriers to safe abortion services don’t stop women from seeking abortion; rather they are just more likely to force women into unsafe solutions. Prompt, non-judgmental post-abortion care to treat complications of unsafe abortion is essential to reduce morbidity and mortality. Post-abortion care includes treatment of incomplete and unsafe abortion complications; counselling to identify and respond to emotional and physical needs; contraceptive and family-planning services and reproductive and other health services
Beyond the public health concerns, access to safe abortion care is a human rights issue. Without access to safe, legal, high quality services, women’s most basic human rights to life, security of the person, freedom from cruel and inhumane treatment and freedom from discrimination are violated.
Even where the legal setting surrounding abortion in a country or community may limit the scope of activity, there is always work that can be done to advance progress toward improving access to safe abortion services, as well as to improve post-abortion care.