Gender equality isn’t possible without abortion and contraception

Access to reproductive health protects women and girls, uplifts them and allows them to prosper.

Banchiamlack Dessalegn, Africa Director at MSI Reproductive Choices
Published On 18 Mar 2023

It is Women’s History Month and the world is bursting with proclamations of support for gender equality and women’s rights. But too often, the general narrative celebrating historical progress on gender issues leaves out abortion and contraception, sidelining the fact that without them, gender equality would have been – and still is – impossible.

This year, millions of women and girls will be denied access to abortion, forced to carry unintended pregnancies to term or resort to unsafe termination. Abortion continues to be unjustly restricted across the world, most recently in the United States, where new state bans are being introduced with the Supreme Court’s decision to rescind the legal protection of abortion established in the 1970s.


Nepal – Decrminalise abortion: Rights activists

By Ram Kumar Kamat
Mar 18, 2023

Kathmandu – Article 38(2) of the constitution ensures the right of every woman to safe motherhood and reproductive health thereby acknowledging the right to safe abortion as part of reproductive health right, but in practice, women have not been able to enjoy this right, due to criminalisation of abortion and a number of restrictive measures.

Executive Director of Forum for Women, Law and Development Sabin Shrestha said Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health Rights Act, which was brought to enable women to enjoy their reproductive health rights, conversely prohibited abortion after 28 weeks of pregnancy.


Unsafe abortions, major contributor to maternal morbidity and mortality in Ghana – Lecturer

On Mar 14, 2023

Unsafe induced abortions are a significant contributor to maternal morbidity and mortality in Ghana which raises serious public health concerns, Dr Susan Ama Amuasi, a Lecturer at the Central University, has observed. 

She said with the growing number of young populations globally and an ever-changing sociocultural environment and circumstances, there was a tendency for unwanted pregnancies and abortions. 


#EmbraceEquity: Women’s access to sexual and reproductive health and rights in humanitarian settings

March 8, 2023
Aude Langlois, Senior Communications and Marketing Coordinator, FIGO

To mark International Women’s Day 2023, FIGO is highlighting the need to embrace equity in women’s health care. Women and girls in crisis settings are at heightened risk of having limited access to essential health care – including sexual and reproductive health services. To defend the rights of women and girls in humanitarian contexts, it is essential to promote and protect the provision of health services.

The increased vulnerability of women and girls in humanitarian crises 
In crisis settings, women and girls face significant hardships when trying to access sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Chronic fragility and displacement among women and girls puts them at high risk of unwanted pregnancy by increasing their risks of sexual violence, transactional and coercive sex, human trafficking, and other forms of sexual exploitation and violence. 


PAHO and partners launch campaign to reduce maternal mortality in Latin America and the Caribbean

Every hour, a woman loses her life in the region due to complications in pregnancy, childbirth or postpartum, the vast majority of which are preventable.

8 Mar 2023 

Washington DC - The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) together with other United Nations agencies and partners, today launched a campaign to encourage countries in Latin American and the Caribbean to reduce maternal mortality, which increased by 15% between 2016 and 2020.

Around 8,400 women die each year in the region from complications in pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. High blood pressure, severe bleeding, and complications from unsafe abortion are the most common causes. However, nine out of ten of these deaths are preventable through quality care, access to contraception and by reducing inequities in access to care.


Benin passed one of Africa’s most liberal abortion laws. Why are women still dying?

Social and spiritual factors mean that desperate women are still risking their lives by resorting to unsafe terminations

Sarah Johnson
Tue 28 Feb 2023

There is a patient Dr Véronique Tognifode, a gynaecologist, will always remember. About eight years ago, Abosede*, a student, visited her clinic in tears. Pregnant with an unwanted baby, she asked for an abortion, but the law in Benin at that time permitted termination only in cases of rape or incest, or where the mother’s life was at risk or the unborn child had a serious medical condition.

Tognifode counselled her, telling her a baby was a blessing and that she would help her through the pregnancy. Tognifode felt Abosede took all this on board, and “she left in a calmer state, saying she would come back for prenatal appointments”.


A woman dies every two minutes due to pregnancy or childbirth: UN agencies

New data show major setbacks for maternal health in many parts of the world, highlighting stark disparities in healthcare access

23 February 2023
World Health Organization

Every two minutes, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth, according to the latest estimates released in a report by United Nations agencies today. This report, Trends in maternal mortality, reveals alarming setbacks for women’s health over recent years, as maternal deaths either increased or stagnated in nearly all regions of the world.

“While pregnancy should be a time of immense hope and a positive experience for all women, it is tragically still a shockingly dangerous experience for millions around the world who lack access to high quality, respectful health care,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). “These new statistics reveal the urgent need to ensure every woman and girl has access to critical health services before, during and after childbirth, and that they can fully exercise their reproductive rights.”


Vietnam – Teenagers lack knowledge about reproductive health

February 21, 2023

Some medical experts believed that minors lack basic knowledge and skills on protection and care for reproductive and sexual health, so they easily become victims of sexual abuse, leading to bad consequences. Lack of parents' and relatives’ care and schooling also worsened the problem.

According to the World Health Organization, children entering adolescence are going through many physical and psychological changes like exploring their own capabilities and expanding many new relationships. Teenagers having early sexual intercourse have a higher risk of sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancy, and unsafe abortion.


Dominican Republic – Specialist warns about unsafe abortion

Specialist warns that causing abortion is always dangerous
Note: Headline does not represent what the specialist said

February 16, 2023

On a daily basis, the country’s health centers receive cases of patients of all ages who have medical complications as a result of induced abortions performed under unsafe conditions that endanger their health and lives. The consequences of having an unsafe abortion, whether because the woman ingested pills or another substance or because it was induced by another person, can range from emotional consequences to permanent anemia, mutilations, irreversible damage to the uterus, and even death.

This is how Dr. César López, president of the Dominican Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, explains it, noting that in cases like this, where a woman’s life is put in danger, especially if she is an adolescent, no one is innocent, and there are responsibilities from all sectors, including a lack of sexual education in schools and the family itself. “Provoking or inducing an abortion will always be dangerous, and even more so if all the conditions that must be met, such as asepsis, correct anesthesia, and the expertise of the doctor who performs it, are not met,” he explained.


Nigeria’s Alleged Forced Abortion Campaign Demands Action

For too long, the international community has ignored the Nigerian military’s abuses.

By Lauren Aarons, Akila Radhakrishnan, and Osai Ojigho
FEBRUARY 9, 2023

Last December, reports of a shocking program of forced abortions emerged in Nigeria. The Nigerian military, a Reuters investigation found, has allegedly forcibly terminated the pregnancies of at least 10,000 women and girls who were rescued or returned from Boko Haram-controlled territories in the country’s northeast. A follow-up report found that the army has also massacred children. Both patterns of abuse, Reuters reported, are part of the military’s systematic campaign amid the Boko Haram conflict to end the armed group’s supposed “bloodline.”

Nigerian authorities have rejected these allegations outright, but this is not the first report detailing alleged abuses by the Nigerian military in the Boko Haram conflict. Nor is it the first report to find patterns of violence, including possible crimes against humanity, in which the military has specifically targeted women and girls. For too long, this issue has been ignored by Nigeria’s allies and the United Nations. Now, the international community must act.