September 27, 2022
Ramatou Ouedraogo, Grace Kimemia, Jonna Both
Safe abortion and post abortion care are essential health services. But until the publication of the 2022 World Health Organization (WHO) abortion care guidelines there was a narrow definition of abortion safety. In previous WHO guidelines, medical safety was the guiding principle of safe abortion. Safety, according the WHO, referred to abortion carried out using the recommended methods, by a person with the necessary skills or in an environment that conformed to minimal medical standards, or both.
However, research shows that many girls and young women do not search for medical safety when seeking abortion care. They prioritise “social safety”. This is the case regardless of whether they live in settings with restrictive or more liberal laws. Women’s priority is avoiding prosecution and social stigma.