As abortion is increasingly legalized around the world, millions of women still face entrenched barriers, including stigma and ill-equipped and poorly trained health providers. The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) will join other organizations to mark International Safe Abortion Day on September 28 in a global call to action for access to safe abortion as a human right. In 2016, organizations and advocates in 55 countries organized activities to observe the day.
Nearly 7 million women, mostly in developing countries, are treated for complications from unsafe abortion annually. Policymakers and family planning programs continue to leave abortion out of the picture for social, ideological, religious, or legal reasons. Abortion should be an integral part of the package of sexual and reproductive health services available to women and girls. Under the mottos: “Leaving No One Behind” and “Resist and Persist,” IWHC and its grantee partners around the world will take to social media and engage in live events, amplifying the clarion call for access to safe abortion. Our grantee partners from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America are mobilizing locally and leading their own activities.
Highlighted activities by region:
- In South Africa—which celebrates the 20-year anniversary of the “Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act”—the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition is hosting a series of panel discussions on how to further action for safe abortion. While the country has one of the world’s most progressive abortion laws, it is not fully implemented and stigma around abortion persists.
- In Nigeria, Generation Initiative for Women and Youth Network (GIWYN), in conjunction with the National Coalition for Reproductive Justice (NCRJ), are organizing a community resistance event and publishing an article on the Global Gag Rule.
- The Asia Safe Abortion Partnership will be holding a virtual film festival of short films and videos from their “Let’s Talk Abortion” series.
- CREA, in partnership with Global Health Strategies (GHS), is launching a campaign to address unsafe abortion from the point of view of access to services and barriers within the health system.
- ASTRA, the Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health, will present stories of women who participated in Poland’s successful “Black Monday” protests last year. Public outrage at a bill that would have banned abortion in almost all circumstances forced the government to table it.
- Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir-Argentina (“Catholics for the Right to Decide-Argentina”) and a national pro-choice network it leads are coordinating September 28 activities for Latin America.
- Mujer y Salud en Uruguay (MYSU) will release data on conscientious objection to abortion, a growing trend in Latin America and other parts of the world.
- In Brazil, the organizations Católicas pelo Direito de Decidir-Brazil (“Catholics for the Right to Decide-Brazil”), Grupo Curumim, Anis-Institute of Bioethics, Human Rights and Gender, and other groups will be participating in a virtual chat using the hashtag #PrecisamosFalarSobreAborto (“#WeNeedToTalkAboutAbortion”) on September 27th and then take to the streets on September 28th.
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