The new policy, released October 14, states that access to safe abortion services is both a “right” and “necessary.” Citing unsafe abortion as the cause of 13% of maternal deaths worldwide, the policy states that “this preventable mortality and ill-health due to unsafe abortion is seriously undermining countries’ ability to achieve MDG 5 (to improve maternal health) and places a high burden on already over-stretched health systems.” The policy also states that in countries where abortion is illegal, DFID will “make the consequences of unsafe abortion more widely understood” and will consider “supporting process of legal and policy reform.”
To give you an idea of the impact of this policy statement, DFID, the arm of the UK government that manages Britain’s foreign aid, works in 150 countries and has over 2,500 staff. This is a crucial and monumental step forward for women’s health and rights.
And I’m not the only one who thinks so:
“Access to safe abortion services is fundamental to woman’s ability to exercise her rights to control her body, to self-determination, and to maintain her health,” said Adrienne Germain, President of the International Women’s Health Coalition. “DFID’s commitment to women’s human rights and its leadership in improving sexual and reproductive health is exceptional and should set a standard for the world’s governments. Their support is critical for the many advocates working at local, national, and international levels to rescind or liberalize restrictive abortion laws, and to make safe abortion services available to all who need them. In the 21st century no woman should die or suffer the traumas of an unsafe or illegal abortion.”
To read IWHC ‘s entire media statement, click here.