New insights into quality of care for girls and women facing the complications of unsafe abortion

26 January 2022
World Health Organization

Too many girls and women continue to die and to face both the short and long-term negative consequences of unsafe abortion – yet information is lacking on how health care providers and systems can best provide quality care for girls and women with abortion-related complications.

In recognition of this research gap, HRP, WHO and partners have conducted a research study across 17 countries in the African, Latin American and Caribbean regions, to gather evidence on the provision, experience and quality of care – The WHO and HRP multi-country survey on abortion (MCS-A).


On Abortion Law, the U.S. Is Unusual. Without Roe, It Would Be, Too.

Claire Cain Miller and Margot Sanger-Katz
Sat, January 22, 2022

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said last month that the United States was an international outlier in allowing abortion more than halfway through pregnancy. That later cutoff, he said, places the U.S. in the company of North Korea and China.

It’s true in some ways, but not all. Few countries allow abortion without restriction until fetal viability, the cutoff set by Roe v. Wade, which was decided 49 years ago today. Because of medical advances, that is now around 23 weeks. And only around a dozen other countries allow abortions for any reason beyond 15 weeks of pregnancy, the threshold in the Mississippi law the Supreme Court is considering, which could overturn Roe.

But in many countries, women can get an abortion after the gestational cutoff — for a wide variety of reasons, like health or economic ones. In some, it can be easier to obtain an abortion than in many parts of the U.S. Also, peer countries tend to have more abortion providers, and cover the costs of abortions.


2021: Changes in abortion laws worldwide

Poland has virtually banned abortion, and the United States is also looking at tightening restrictions. But other countries, like Thailand and Benin, have started to loosen their restrictive measures. An overview.

Ines Eisele

Access to abortion has become easier over the decades, according to Leah Hoctor, the senior regional director for Europe at the Center for Reproductive Rights. She said that, with some exceptions, the global trend clearly points at liberalization. Several countries saw developments on the controversial issue over the last year.

Mexico: Penalizing abortion ruled unconstitutional
In September, the Supreme Court in Mexico, Latin America's second most populous country, declared an absolute ban on abortion unconstitutional. The right of women to reproductive self-determination is to be valued more highly than the protection of the fetus, the court said. With the ruling, the judges overturned an abortion ban in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila.


Abortion rights: U.S. restrictions buck the global trend in 2021

Anastasia Moloney, Thomson Reuters Foundation
Dec 13, 2021 

BOGOTA – A record number of U.S. states have sought to restrict access to abortion this year, but countries including Argentina, Mexico and Thailand have moved in the opposite direction – easing their strict laws on the procedure.

In the United States, 106 abortion restrictions were enacted across 19 states in 2021, according to reproductive health research organization the Guttmacher Institute.


Factbox: A global look at abortion and some of the world’s toughest laws

Dec 10, 2021

New limits on abortion rights are being pursued in the United States and other countries.

Here is a look at global abortion statistics and some of the world's strictest abortion laws based on information from the U.N. World Health Organization as well as from the Guttmacher Institute research group and the Center for Reproductive Rights legal advocacy group, both of which support abortion rights.


Looking back on the successes of the International Safe Abortion Day 2021

10 December 2021
FIGO Advocating for Safe Abortion Project

For International Safe Abortion Day (ISAD), marked on 28 September, the 10 national member societies FIGO supports through its Advocating for Safe Abortion Project developed educational activities and awareness-raising campaigns in their countries and communities.

“International Safe Abortion Day is about making what is often ignored – the preventable pandemic of unsafe abortions -  visible. As a committed health care community we come together to demonstrate what solutions must be implemented. Together with our partners, we raise our voices to dismantle abortion-related stigma which is the enemy of women/girls’ right to claim access to safe abortion – time-sensitive essential health care.  This year from Latin America to Africa we are proud to share the efforts of our OBGYN member societies, and all that they are doing to stand up for women/girls’ health care and human rights.”
– Jessica Morris, Senior Project Manager, Advocating for Safe Abortion Project, FIGO


Africa: Reproductive Health and Rights Activists From Over a Dozen Countries Unveil Call to Donors

The Aspen Institute (Washington, DC)

At a virtual press briefing today, global health experts and activists — all current or senior fellows of the Aspen Institute New Voices Fellowship — called for a radical transformation of the way donor nations and philanthropies fund sexual and reproductive health justice and activism.

Recounting experiences echoed in a recent United Nations report, speakers at the press briefing said that they and their colleagues see a growing pattern of discrimination in the provision of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) globally that builds on generations of power imbalances. To correct these dynamics and the legacy of colonial rule and white supremacy, the fellows today released a series of recommendations to set the stage for a two-day virtual “Invisible No More” festival planned for December 2 and 3.


Putting patients first

Médecins Sans Frontières
18 November 2021

Every year, 25 million people worldwide end their pregnancies with unsafe abortions, and 22,800 of them die from the consequences. Despite these grim figures, abortion is often not treated like the essential health care service it is. Here, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) midwife Nelly Staderini discusses how MSF has incorporated safe abortion into a standard package of health services.

The following Q&A was translated and adapted from an interview with Staderini by the French podcast Programme B.


Yes, science can weigh in on abortion law

Why, as a scientist, I signed an amicus brief for the US Supreme Court’s case on abortion.

Diana Greene Foster, Nature
16 November 2021

The world is moving towards greater reproductive rights for women. More than 50 countries have liberalized their abortion laws in the past 25 years, informed by scientific research. Studies find that unsafe abortion is responsible for one in eight maternal deaths globally (E. Ahman and I. H. Shah Int. J. Gynaecol. Obstet. 115, 121–126; 2011), concentrated in low-income countries where abortion is illegal. Preventing unsafe abortion is a priority — 193 countries signed up to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which call for reductions in maternal mortality.

Yet some countries, such as the United States, Poland and Nicaragua, are making access to abortion more difficult. Restrictions are passed on the basis of ideology or political motives, without considering scientific evidence about their impact.


Gender Equality and the Complete Decriminalisation of Abortion

Mara Malagodi, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Law
November 10, 2021

Recent legal changes in a number of jurisdictions that have entirely decriminalised abortion are steeped in the language of gender constitutionalism and human rights – whether these changes have taken place via constitutional litigation or statutory reform. As a result, the campaigns for complete decriminalisation in other jurisdictions have now begun to engage in a pragmatic comparative law exercise to advance their cause. Activists deploy the legal arguments and strategies marshalled in those jurisdictions that have completely removed abortion from the purview of their criminal laws alongside domestic constitutional principles and international human rights standards. As such, we are witnessing a global cross-pollination of legal ideas anchored in substantive notions of gender equality and human dignity to challenge legal restrictions to women’s bodily autonomy.

Abortion is the only medical procedure that continues to be consistently treated as a crime around the world. Even those jurisdictions that have partially liberalised their legal regimes continue to criminalise abortion outside of the terms explicitly provided by law. Only a handful of jurisdictions such as China (1979 – excluding Hong Kong and Macau), Canada (1988), Northern Ireland (2019), New Zealand (2020), and Australia (2021), have entirely removed abortion from the purview of their penal laws. Canada did so via constitutional litigation, while the other jurisdictions via statutory reform.