1968: a revolutionary year – also for reproduction

1968: a revolutionary year – also for reproduction

By: Nikolai Astrup, Minister of International Development, Norway;- Isabella Lövin, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate and Deputy Prime Minister, Sweden; Ulla Tørnæs, Minister for Development Cooperation, Denmark; and Anne-Mari Virolainen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Finland.

This year, in 2018, it is 50 years since reproductive rights – including the right to decide whether to have children and how many children to have – were first formally recognised.

More than 200 million women in developing countries are still denied these rights.

1968 gave its name to a generation known for its ambition to change the world for the better. And a historic decision was made that year, a decision with the potential to fundamentally change the lives of all people – and of women in particular.

Continued: http://um.dk/en/news/newsdisplaypage/?newsid=c37e4a26-76ea-4256-82c6-00bd29def796

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Finland has Nordic region’s lowest abortion rate

THL: Finland has Nordic region's lowest abortion rate
Fewer abortions are performed in Finland per capita than in other Nordic countries, according to preliminary figures from the National Institute for Health and Welfare used in a recent study at the University of Oulu.

National Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, reports that abortions among those under 20 years of age have declined steeply in recent years, and are now at half the level of the early 2000s. The agency's senior planning officer Anna Heino says there are many reasons for the downturn.

"Municipalities have invested in bringing the number down, health information classes have been obligatory in school since the early 2000s and the internet is full of accurate information on reproductive health and contraception," Heino says.

Continued at source: https://yle.fi/uutiset/osasto/news/thl_finland_has_nordic_regions_lowest_abortion_rate/9915409

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Norway to increase support for women’s health and safe abortion

Norway to increase support for women's health and safe abortion

Press release | Date: Oct 12, 2017

'Norway is at the forefront of efforts to promote gender equality and women's health at the international level. We are among the biggest donors to efforts in this field, but there are still many unmet needs. The Government therefore proposes an increase of NOK 180 million in earmarked support for women's health and safe abortion in 2018. 'This increase comes in addition to the major increase in funding earlier this year, in connection with the SheDecides initiative,' said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

Continued at source: Government of Norway: https://www.regjeringen.no/en/aktuelt/womens_health/id2574852/

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Refusal to Treat Patients Does Not Work in Any Country—Even If Misleadingly Labelled “Conscientious Objection”

Letter to the Editor: Refusal to Treat Patients Does Not Work in Any Country—Even If Misleadingly Labelled “Conscientious Objection”

On September 6, 2017 · In Perspectives
Christian Fiala and Joyce H. Arthur

We would like to point out some serious problems and contradictions in the study “Regulation of Conscientious Objection to Abortion: An International Comparative Multiple-Case Study,” by Wendy Chavkin, Laurel Swerdlow, and Jocelyn Fifield (Health and Human Rights Journal, vol. 19, no. 1, 2017).

The study purports to show that it is possible to accommodate health care providers’ “conscientious objection” (CO) to legal abortion while assuring that women with an unwanted pregnancy have access to health care services. The researchers examined four countries—England, Italy, Portugal, and Norway—all Western democracies with laws that allow CO for abortion. They conclude that England, Norway, and Portugal are able to permit CO by law and still provide and fund abortion care. Italy is the major exception, where access to legal abortion is seriously compromised due to a very high number of objectors.

Continued at source: Health & Human Rights Journal: https://www.hhrjournal.org/2017/09/letter-to-the-editor-refusal-to-treat-patients-does-not-work-in-any-country-even-if-misleadingly-labelled-conscientious-objection/

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Norway: Abortion rate declines again

Abortion rate declines again
March 12, 2017

A steady decline in the number of abortions performed in Norway continued last year, and it’s now well below the number in 1979, when the country’s law that liberalized abortions took effect.

The decline in abortions is significant, note state health care officials, because there are roughly 300,000 more women aged 15-49 living in Norway, and thus deemed fertile, than there were 37 years ago when the state abortion register was launched. That means there’s been an even bigger decline in the abortion rate in Norway, which now is set at 11 per 1,000 women.

The public health institute (Folkehelseinstitutt) reported this week that 13,169 women opted for an abortion in 2016. That’s down from the 14,224 abortions performed in 1979, when the population was much smaller than now.

Last year’s total was the lowest ever recorded by Norway’s Abortregister. Fully 87.5 percent of abortions in Norway are also now performed with medication, instead of invasive surgery, reported news bureau NTB.

Source: http://www.newsinenglish.no/2017/03/12/abortion-rate-declines-again/

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UK fails to contribute as donors unite to bridge US ‘global gag’ funding shortfall

UK fails to contribute as donors unite to bridge US 'global gag' funding shortfall

As countries pledge a total of €181m to fill void left by Trump administration’s funding ban, UK highlights existing commitments on family planning

Jennifer Rankin in Brussels and Jessica Elgot in London
Thursday 2 March 2017

The British government failed to join other donors in pledging millions of dollars to an international fund aimed at filling the gap left by Donald Trump’s reimposition of the “global gag rule”.

At a conference in Brussels on Thursday attended by delegates from 50 countries, pledges were made totalling €181m (£155m) to fund family planning and reproductive health services in low-income countries. Organisers hope to counter Trump’s ban on US aid to overseas groups that provide abortion or abortion advocacy, one of the US president’s first acts in the White House.

Countries including Canada, Sweden and Finland lined up to announce pledges, while Britain’s minister at the talks presented existing spending commitments.

Continued at source: The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/mar/02/uk-donors-unite-us-global-gag-rule-shortfall-trump-she-decides-conference-brussels

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Norway joins Dutch international abortion fund to combat Donald Trump’s aid ban

Norway joins Dutch international abortion fund to combat Donald Trump's aid ban

Prime Minister Erna Solberg says 'a joint effort is particularly important' in the face of pro-life pressure

by Jon Sharman
Tuesday 21 February 2017

Norway has pledged millions of dollars to a global fund designed to help women access abortion services after Donald Trump cut support for health clinics across the world.

Continued at source: The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/norway-international-abortion-fund-fight-donald-trump-aid-ban-mexico-city-policy-netherlands-a7590896.html

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Norway pledges $10 million to counter Trump’s global anti-abortion move

Norway pledges $10 million to counter Trump's global anti-abortion move
Mon Feb 20, 2017

Norway has joined an international initiative to raise millions of dollars to replace shortfalls left by U.S. President Donald Trump's ban on U.S.-funded groups worldwide providing information on abortion.

In January, the Netherlands started a global fund to help women access abortion services, saying Trump's "global gag rule" meant a funding gap of $600 million over the next four years, and has pledged $10 million to the initiative to replace that.

Continued at source: Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-norway-abortion-idUSKBN15Z1KL

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Norway: Doctor lost lawsuit after she denied patients IUD

Doctor lost lawsuit after she denied patients IUD

Posted By: Tor Ingar Oesterud
9 February 2017

Historic ruling in Norway.

The doctor, Katarzyna Jachimowicz, was fired after refuse to insert the birth control IUD (Intrauterine Device) for women. The IUD is a common birth control amongst women and need to be put in by a doctor.

Jachimowicz filed a case against her employer Sauherad municipality for wrongful termination. But the Court ruled in her disfavour and she lost.

Continued at source: Norway Today: http://norwaytoday.info/news/doctor-lost-lawsuit-dined-patients-uid/

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Norway/UN: Speech for International Day for Safe Abortions

Speech/statement | Published: 2016-09-28

By State Secretary Laila Bokhari, Norway

State Secretary Laila Bokhari's speech at a meeting in Oslo 28 September marking the International day for Safe Abortions.

Let me first express my appreciation to civil society organisations in Norway and across the world for marking the International day for Safe Abortions. I would also like to pay a special tribute to the women in Latin America who more than 20 years ago launched the first campaign on safe abortion on a 28 September.

If women's rights had their rightful place in the family of nations, this could have been another United Nations' day. We are not yet there. And we will not be there until the day we succeed in convincing all UN Member States that safe abortion should be an integral part of women's right to control and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality.

I am afraid that is not going to happen anytime soon.

The question is: Are we making progress or are we moving backwards in making safe abortion a reality for women worldwide?

Let us start by looking at legislation.

On this score, it seems that, overall, we are on the right track. This is at least what comes out of the UNs latest overview over abortion policies around the world, in the period from 1996 to 2013.

It is puzzling that the negative news are mainly coming from Western countries, and in particular from Eastern Europe. In several of these countries, we are facing the prospect of restrictive abortion laws becoming even more restrictive.

On other continents, women's fights have set in motion processes, which in some countries have already led to liberalisation of restrictive abortion laws. This is the case in Mozambique. I am proud that Norway's support to women's organisations there played a part in this success story. In Chile, president Bachelet's initiative to rewrite the current legislation on abortion has met fierce resistance from some quarters. Still, there is no doubt that the total ban on abortion, which now prevails in Chile, will be abandoned. By the same token, the number of countries which do not allow abortion under any circumstances, even when a woman's life is at risk, will go down from 6 to 5. A small, but still a symbolically important sign since this figure of 6 has remained unchanged for too long.

However, being on the right track does not mean we are up to the right speed.

Progress is painfully slow particularly when it comes to pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. More than 50% of UN member states do not permit abortion in these cases. Some of the most unbearable stories of violence against women are coming from countries which not only refuse access to abortion for young girls who have been raped, but also in some cases charge and imprison them.

Legislation is important but unless it is translated into concrete action to ensure that hospitals and health staff are equipped – and willing - to perform safe abortions, it is of limited value. According to the UN report that I mentioned, 87 countries implemented measures to improve access to safe abortion services and 152 to improve sexual and reproductive health services. So things are moving in the right direction. However, the figures we have about deaths due to unsafe abortion speak about the gaps that remain to be filled. It is about resources - financial, human and technical. It is also about overcoming social norms, such as stigma related to abortion. And it is about women being unable to decide for themselves whether to have an abortion or not. Above all, it is about women's continued status of inferiority compared to men and entrenched discrimination across the board, be it in the political, social or economic sphere.

So: What needs to be done?

What can countries like Norway do to accelerate the positive trends and counter the negative developments when it comes to strengthening access to safe abortion?

First of all, I am convinced that the main actors are those who live in countries where laws, policies and practices must change to permit women's access to safe abortions. What we can and should do is to support agents of change inside countries, primarily local women's organisations. We also need to use relevant opportunities to engage governments and parliamentarians. I believe we must also challenge religious leaders who have an influence in some of the countries with the most backward policies. This includes the Catholic Church's potential role in getting rid of the grimmest and most hideous practices in some specific Latin American countries.

Let me end by summarising how we work to advance women's access to safe abortion as laid out in our new Action Plan for Women's Rights and Gender Equality in Foreign and Development Policy 2016-2020

  • At the global level, we consistently intervene in all relevant negotiations in the UN to safeguard the commitments that countries have freely taken on in relation to safe abortion. We also use these occasions to underpin the need for further strengthening of norms by recalling the human and financial costs related to unsafe abortions.
  • We use the Universal Peer Review at the UN Human Rights Council systematically, and more than any other country, to make recommendations to relevant countries, from Ireland in the North to Honduras in the South. We use a lot of time to tailor-make our recommendations on abortion so that they fit the particular context in a particular country.
  • We support women's organisations both at the regional and country level that work to advance safe abortion.
  • We work with countries that benefit from the Global Financing Facility in support of the Global Strategy for Women's, Children's and Adolescents' Health (2016-2030) to prioritize funding for reproductive health services, including safe abortion in their country investment case.
  • We also support international non-governmental organizations who promote safe abortion, such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

By way of conclusion, I want to point out that our major priority is to impede, to the extent possible, unwanted pregnancies to occur in the first place. For that purpose, we support effort to increase access to modern forms of contraception, with a particular emphasis on methods that women control, such as implants. While it will never be possible to totally avoid recourse to abortion, we must strive to reduce the need for this service to the strict minimum.

I wish you a fruitful debate that I am sure will contribute to bolster our common resolve to stay the course until the day when all women in the world have access to legal and safe abortion as part of every country's basic health services.

Source: Government of Norway

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