International Safe Abortion Day 2021: FIGO launches key recommendations on safe abortion

28 September marks International Safe Abortion Day. For this year’s international day of action, stakeholders around the world are coming together behind the call “Make Unsafe Abortion History”. FIGO is proud to release four statements from our Safe Abortion Committee, re-iterating our commitment to sexual and reproductive rights and joining the call for legal and safe abortion for all women and girls.

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Access to safe abortion is time-sensitive essential health care. It is included in numerous international, regional and national legally binding treaties – providing access to safe abortion is imperative for women and girls to achieve their human and reproductive rights.

Unsafe abortion remains a preventable public health tragedy and a violation of women and girls’ human rights. It accounts for 13% of global maternal mortalities, with hundreds of thousands of survivors living with long-term complications, including infertility and chronic pain.

FIGO’s Safe Abortion Committee works to strengthen women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights by improving their access to safe abortion services. It achieves this by providing evidence-based clinical guidance and support to our Member Societies.

We are pleased to announce the release of four statements concerning contemporary issues around abortion care:

An additional four statements covering conscientious objection, decriminalisation, abortion in humanitarian settings, and abortion self-care will be published soon.

On these statements, Chair of the FIGO Safe Abortion Committee Jaydeep Tank said:

FIGO’s statements to strengthen access to safe abortion reaffirms our commitment to reproductive autonomy, which includes access to safe abortion services – a basic and non-negotiable human right. Abortion is a time-sensitive, essential medical service – one that should be provided in accordance with women and girls’ preferences, and with safety, privacy and dignity at the forefront.

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With 121 million unintended pregnancies each year – and few countries with legal to safe abortion – too many women and girls who do not want to become parents are forced to remain pregnant. This not only represents a denial of their autonomy, but it may also have serious consequences for their mental health and access to opportunities to achieve their life goals. For many women, this is so unacceptable that they are forced to place themselves in extreme danger by undergoing unsafe abortions. We know it is women and girls who are often already marginalised – such as those living in poverty and rural areas – who pay the greatest toll and are at the highest risk of unsafe abortion, as well as maternal mortality and morbidity.

The launch of FIGO’s evidence-based statements provide clear guidance and recommendations to OBGYNs and other health care practitioners. The statements highlight how the OBGYN community can collectively leverage its clinical evidence-based expertise to deliver real change in the lives of women, girls, their families and communities by strengthening access to safe abortion services.

Any one woman or girl dying or becoming disabled from an unsafe abortion is one too many.

– Dr Jaydeep Tank, Chair of the FIGO Safe Abortion Committee  

The work of FIGO’s Safe Abortion Committee feeds into FIGO’s Advocating for Safe Abortion Project, which works with ten FIGO Member Societies (in Africa and Latin America) to strengthen their capacity to be national leaders on sexual and reproductive health and rights and safe abortion.

FIGO strongly urges our Members Societies to share our statements and help to amplify the call for safe provision of and access to abortion services. You can find more resources on safe abortion – in particular International Safe Abortion Day – on our dedicated webpage.