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Ensuring Access to Safe, Legal Abortion: A Global Movement Grows

Written by Purmina Mane and Dianne Luby for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Each year, 47,000 women throughout the world die from complications of unsafe abortion. That's an estimated 13 percent of maternal deaths -- more than 120 women every day whose deaths are entirely preventable. Approximately 220,000 children lose their mothers this way every year.

Maternal deaths caused by unsafe abortion are both devastating for the families involved and detrimental to their larger community. Guaranteeing access to safe, legal abortion -- and removing barriers to access in countries where abortion is legal -- is essential to saving women's lives and reversing these tragic statistics.

On September 28th, national and international women's health groups will come together to mark the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe, Legal Abortion. This Day of Action has its roots in a 20-year movement across Latin America to reverse restrictive laws that criminalize abortion and reduce stigma for women who have abortions. Unfortunately, after decades of struggle, we still have a lot of work ahead -- internationally and even here in the United States.

In many countries, outright bans or stringent restrictions on abortion result in women turning to unregulated providers for unsafe, clandestine procedures. Persisting stigmas around abortion, lack of appropriate counseling and information, and inadequately trained health care providers lead to even more women turning to dangerous options for ending a pregnancy.


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