International Safe Abortion Day 2023: OBGYNS are essential allies for the unstoppable abortion solidarity movement

International Safe Abortion day - Theme: Unstoppable Movement

On 28 September, we join forces with activists and partner organisations worldwide to mark International Safe Abortion Day. The theme for this year is Unstoppable Movement: Movement building, solidarity, and justice for the right to safe abortion 

Over the past 30 years, more than 60 countries have liberalised their abortion laws. From Benin to Ireland, abortion rights are increasingly recognised as human rights that strengthen gender equality and the right to bodily autonomy. Such recognition, and the associated changes in laws, policies and behaviours, have been achieved thanks to the concerted efforts of women’s rights activists, healthcare providers, youth movements and wider civil society.  

FIGO is proud to be part of this unstoppable global movement working together to strengthening safe abortion care. We are steadfast in our resolve to facilitate access to safe abortion care and combat abortion-related stigma.  Regulating abortion care like any other health care and removing it from penal codes is critical to achieve this goal.  We know change is possible and we will never give up. 

“Abortion is an essential component of universal health coverage and a time-sensitive procedure. Any delay has the potential to profoundly impact the health and wellbeing of women and girls. As global sexual and reproductive health providers, OBGYNs know the inevitable result. We know that restricting access to safe abortion makes the procedure more complex and more dangerous. Each year, 35 million women endure dangerous and unsafe methods to end their pregnancy, and OBGYNs and other health care workers worldwide witness and deal with the terrible consequences of this every day.” 

- Dr Jeanne Conry, FIGO President 

Pan-African unstoppable Movement to strengthen safe abortion  

The Livingstone Safe Abortion Care Charter reaffirms the commitment of African Obstetric and Gynaecological (OBGYN) societies, to strengthen access to safe abortion care for women and girls. The Charter includes seven specific commitments on how each national OBGYN society will leverage its clinical expertise and resources to address the scale of unsafe abortion in the African region to meet the needs and entitlements of women and girls. Learn more on how your OBGYN society can join this movement.   

“We need to keep our eyes on the ball, once we lose sight of a good cause we could end up rebounding on abortion. The Livingstone Safe Abortion Care charter will set the way forward.”  

- Dr Swebby Macha, President of the Zambian Association of Gynaecologists & Obstetricians (ZAGO)  

Since its launch, The Livingstone Safe Abortion Care Charter has rapidly gathered momentum among existing and new OBGYNs, facilitating their continued efforts to address abortion-related stigma among key stakeholders.  

“Ahead of ISAD 2023 we conducted Value, Clarification, Attitude Transformation sessions with medical students. As future healthcare providers, medical students are entering on a journey that will involve caring for people through some of their most vulnerable times, such as abortion care. Providing compassionate and patient-centred abortion treatment, based on clinical evidence and human rights standards is not just a medical obligation, but it is also a question of honouring a person's autonomy and reproductive rights.” 

- Dr Carole Odula, OBGYN in Kenya and member of the FIGO- East, Central and Southern Africa Community of Practice  

#IAMSAFE campaign – West Africa  

The   #IAmSAFE campaign is run by five OBGYN member societies: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali and Côte d'Ivoire. This campaign provides relevant tools and resources to help activists, journalists, artists, OBGYNs and civil society better engage with decision-makers to destigmatise and reinforce access to safe abortion services. 

“FIGO proudly supports the 'I am safe' campaign, enthusiastically endorsing this pivotal initiative led by national member societies of obstetrics and gynaecology in West Africa and amplified by the health care movement across Africa.This is a participatory campaign that engages with youth SRHR advocates, artists, OBGYNs and additional key stakeholders across Africa. It is a resounding call for decision-makers to invest in laws, policies and behaviours that enable women and girls to claim their right to safe abortion care if and when they need it, and ensures that health care providers can safely provide abortion care without fear or prosecution of reprisals.” 

- Kader Avonnon, West Africa Advocacy and Communications Consultant, FIGO 

FIGO Committee on Safe Abortion  

Access and barriers to safe abortion differ from country to country around the world. FIGO Committee on Safe Abortion from FIGO, with representatives from all continents, works to protect sexual rights and promote access to safe abortion for all. 

 “FIGO’s abortion position statements call on FIGO members and OBGYNs all over the world to be accountable – to medical students by providing suitable abortion training, to those doubly affected by humanitarian disasters to provide care, to women and girls who need us by promoting abortion provision as a conscientious choice for OBGYNS”.  

- Dr Teresa Bombas, Chair of FIGO Committee on Safe Abortion 

To build a stronger OBGYN unstoppable movement advocating for safe abortion care, please find links to FIGO’s abortion-related statements here for you and your OBGYN members guidance. 

Take our ISAD 2023 quiz to test your knowledge on safe abortion care and FIGO’s work.