As the US Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade, global health care organisations call on all governments to defend access to safe and quality abortion care

Ensuring access to safe, quality abortion is an imperative. Abortion is recognised as essential health care that must be provided by governments. Access to safe abortion is also a human right. Attacks against reproductive freedom are attacks on democracy and international human rights standards, on individual freedoms and the right to privacy, and they set back progress towards gender equality.  

The United States Supreme Court decision to dismantle Roe v Wade and roll back 50 years of access to safe abortion care is a catastrophic blow to the lives of millions of women, girls and pregnant people who now face the prospect of being forced to continue pregnancies. It is a decision that will cost lives for years to come.

The US joins just a handful of countries that have actively reduced access to abortion care in recent years. This is out of step with the global community’s commitment to advance human rights and fails to take into account the overwhelming global medical evidence that supports abortion as essential health care.1

Around the world,2 progress is being made to remove restrictions to care for example Latin America’s ‘green wave’ (Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Chile) in Africa (Benin, Mozambique, Kenya), Asia and the Pacific (Thailand, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand) and Europe (France, Ireland, England). Governments are responding to feminist grassroots movements and acting upon evidence-based findings and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines that draw on clinical and technological advancements, including telemedicine and self-management of abortion care, in order to guarantee their populations’ rights to essential health care. 

As organisations dedicated to providing and supporting health care, we know that restrictive laws do not reduce the need for abortion care. Rather, such laws increase inequities in access; nurture an environment of fear, stigmatisation and criminalisation; and put women, girls and pregnant people at risk.

Abortion laws not based on scientific evidence harm health care workers. Countries with total bans or highly restrictive abortion law prevent and criminalise the provision of essential health care services and support to those that require abortion care. Many individuals supporting abortion care experience abuse, threats and even violence. In the United States, such incidents are commonplace and have even resulted in the murder of health care professionals. Further isolating these dedicated health care workers with restrictive laws will put them at even greater risk.

Lack of access to safe abortion care is one of the leading causes of preventable maternal death and disability. Each year 47,000 women in the world die as a result of unsafe abortion1,3 and an estimated five million are hospitalised for the treatment of serious complications such as bleeding or infection.4

Supporting safe and high-quality abortion care is a demonstration of a government’s commitment to reproductive and social justice. Abortion care is an integral part of comprehensive health care provision – the need for this care will not go away. Limiting access to abortion care takes the greatest toll on the lives of women, girls and pregnant people; those living in poverty; those with marginalised racial, ethnic identities; adolescents; and those living in rural areas. A denial of abortion care further exacerbates their historical discrimination and mistreatment, and places them at the greatest risk of preventable maternal death and disability. 

As national, regional and global health care organisations, we urge all governments to take immediate action to: 

  • Create and protect legal and regulatory environments that support health care professionals to provide access to safe and affordable abortion care. Access to abortion care should be protected and supported as an inalienable reproductive right.
  • Decriminalise abortion care and regulate it like any other health care provision. Decriminalising abortion refers to the removal of specific criminal and/or civil sanctions against abortion from the law, so that no one is punished for having, providing or supporting access to abortion. 
  • Utilise the full benefit of the safety and efficacy of abortion medication, as well as the advancement of technology, to allow telemedicine and self-management access to abortion, as recommended by the WHO Abortion Care Guideline.
  • Invest in robust health systems that are human rights-centred for abortion care information, counselling and services. Prioritise training on abortion care as an essential part of professional development for health care professionals – integrate it into lifelong learning to ensure health services are universally available. Such approaches should be linked to reproductive and social justice movements, and should include actions that address the needs and rights of communities that have been historically discriminated against. 

References


1. https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240039483

2. https://reproductiverights.org/maps/worlds-abortion-laws/

3. WHO. Unsafe abortion: global and regional estimates of the incidence of unsafe abortion and associated mortality in 2008. Sixth Edition. 2011. p 27. 10

4. Singh S, Hospital admissions resulting from unsafe abortion: estimates from 13 developing countries, Lancet, 2006, 368(955):1887–1892.

Signatories (12:00 UTC+1 on 22 July 2022)

Join the global list of organisational signatories 

(Please note the list of signatories is being updated on a regular basis, names do not appear automatically.)

Abortion Rights Campaign, Ireland

Abortion Talk, United Kingdom

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Trainee Doctors' Group (ATDG), United Kingdom

American College of Nurse Midwives, United States

American Medical Student Association, United States

Alliance for Choice, United Kingdom

Alliance of Bulgarian Midwives, Bulgaria

APEO-Associação Portuguesa dos Enfermeiros Obstetras, Portugal

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, United States

ARC Donegal, Ireland

Asia Oceania Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Sri Lanka

Asociación de ginecología y obstetricia de El Salvador, El Salvador

Asociación médica Argentina de Anticoncepción, Argentina

Association Marocaine De Planification Familiale, Morocco

Associação Moçambicana de Obstetras e Ginecologista, Mozambique

Associação para o Planeamento da Família, Portugal

Associação Portuguesa de Diagnóstico Pré-Natal (APDPN), Portugal

Association des sages-femmes d’Haiti, Haiti

Association Francophone des Sages-femmes AFSFC, Belguim

Association Nationale des Sages Femmes Orthogénistes, France

Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland, United Kingdom

Asociación de parteras profesionales, Mexico

Association of Nova Scotia Midwives, Canada

Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Uganda, Uganda

Assocation of Ontario Midwives, Canada

Association Togolaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial (ATBEF), Togo

Austrian Family Planning Association (OGF), Austria

Austrian Midwife Association, Austria

Austrian Society for Gynecology and Obstetrics - OEGGG, Austria

Australian College of Midwives, Australia

Awasho Health Center, Ethiopia

Azerbaijan Association "Support to Development of Gynecology and Perinatology", Azerbaijan

Baanhn Beli, Pakistan

Baluchistan, Pakistan

Bangladesh Women's Health Coalition (BWHC), Bangladesh

Barbados Midwives Group, Barbados

Barbados Nurses Association, Barbados

Belgian Midwives Organisation, Belgium

Botswana Nurses Union, Botswana

British Fertility Society, United Kingdom

British Gynaecological Cancer Society, United Kingdom

British Medical Association (BMA), United Kingdom

British Pregnancy Advisory Service, United Kingdom

British Society of Abortion Care Providers, United Kingdom

Brook, United Kingdom

Canadian Association of Midwives, Canada

Caribbean Family Planning Affiliation, Antigua and Barbuda

Centre de planning familial et de sexologie de Forest, Belgium

Centre de planning familial La famille heureuse Tournai, Belgium

Centre of Excellence in Reproductive Innovation (CERHI), Nigeria

Centre Séverine - Planning familial Laïque de Bruxelles Ouest, Belgium

Centro Con Parto Amor, Mexico

CHU de Québec, Canada

CLACAI, Consorcio Latinoamericano Contra el Aborto Inseguro, Peru

CLADEM Brasil - Comitê Latino-Americano e do Caribe para a Defesa dos Direitos das Mulheres, Brazil

Coalition des organisations de jeunes pour l'avortement sécurisé au Bénin, Bénin

Collège National des Sages-Femmes, France

CNGOF, France

CNOSF, France

Collège Royal des Gynécologues Obstétriciens de Langue Française de Belgique, Belgium

Community Association of Women and Children with Disabilities (CAWCD), Uganda

College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of South Africa, South Africa

The Colleges of Medicine of South Africa, South Africa

Cook Islands Family Welfare Association, Cook Islands

Danish Midwives Association, Denmark

Danish Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Denmark

Developing Doulas, United Kingdom

Di RAMONA, Mexico

Doctors for Choice Brazil, Brazil

Doctors for Choice Germany, Germany

Doctors For Choice Ireland, Ireland

Doctors for choice Malta, Malta

Doctors for Choice UK, United Kingdom

Doulaförbundet, Sweden

Endometriosis and Adenomyosis Society of Bangladesh (EASB), Bangladesh

Global Doctors for Choice/Méxco, Mexico

Epidemiologic Research Centre in Sexual and Reproductive Health, Guatemala

Estonian Gynaecologists' Society, Estonia

Estonian Midwives Association, Estonia

Estonian Society of Perinatology, Estonia

Ethiopian Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ESOG), Ethiopia

European Midwives Association, Belgium

European Network of Trainees in Obstetrics and Gynecology – ENTOG, Greece

Faculté d'Aimer, Belgium

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the UK, United Kingdom

Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), United Kingdom

Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT), Trinidad and Tobago

Family Planning NSW, Australia

Family Planning Tasmania, Australia

Federación Colombiana de Obstetricia y Ginecología (FECOLSOG), Colombia

Federación Mexicana de Colegios de Obstetricia y Ginecología AC (Femecog), Mexico

Fédération Laïque de Centres de planning Familial (FLCPF), Belgium

Federation of Portuguese Societies of Obstetrics and Gynecology - FSPOG, Portugal

FIAPAC - International Federation of Abortion and Contraception Providers, France

Finnish Society of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, Finland

The Finnish Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Finland

The Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI), India

FMH University of Sydney, Australia

Fos Feminista, United States

Fundación Oriéntame, Colombia

Generation Initiative for Women and Youth Network, Nigeria

Georgian Obstetricians & Gynecologist Association, Georgia

German Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Germany

Global Doctors for Choice, United States

Global Network NVOG, Netherlands

Global Office Consulting /PUSH Campaign, United Kingdom

Grupo Curumim - Gestação e Parto, Brazil

Guyana’s Obstetrics and Gynecologic Society, Guyana

Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom

Hellenicpag, Greece

HKSAI, Kenya

Hungarian Midwives Association, Hungary

Human Rights in Childbirth, United States

Independent Midwives Association, Romania

Initiative for Health & Equity in Society, India

Institute of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, Ireland

Instituto de Salud Popular (INSAP), Peru

Integrated Women and Children's Development Activities (IWCDA), Uganda

International Centre Reproductive Health, Kenya

International Council of Nurses ICN, Switzerland

International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), Netherlands

International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), United Kingdom

International Federation of Medical Students' Associations, Denmark

International Federation of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, United States 

International Indigenous HIV & AIDS Community, Canada

International Planned Parenthood Federation, United Kingdom

International Planned Parenthood Federation, Fiji

Ipas, United States

Ipfundo nyaro, Rwanda

Israel Midwives Association, Israel

IUCN Biodiversity & Family Planning Task Force, Uganda

Japan Academy of Midwifery, Japan

Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology (JSOG), Japan

JOICFP (Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning), Japan

Kenya Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, Kenya

KMET, Kenya

Koepel Gynaecoloog en Maatschappij NVOG, Netherlands

Kosovo Obstetrics and Gynaecology Association (KOGA), Kosovo

KNOV (The Royal Dutch Organisation of Midwives), Netherlands

Korean Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Republic of Korea

Lady Mermaid's Bureau, Uganda

Landspitali, Iceland

Le Planning familial, France

Lending Hands Initiative, Kenya

Lithuanian Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Lithuania

MABIA-Ghana, Ghana

Medical Students for Choice, United States

Midwives Association of Zambia, Zambia

Mongolian Midwives Association, Mongolia

Macedonian Association of Gynecologists and Obstetricians (AGOM/MAGO), Macedonia

Macedonian Association of Nurses and Midwives, Macedonia

Margaret Pyke Trust, United Kingdom

Maternal Reproductive and Child Health Centre (MARCH) at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom

Medical Women's Federation, United Kingdom

Menstrual Matters, United Kingdom

Metropolis Foundation, India

Midwifery Education Accreditation Council, United States

Midwifery Society of Nepal, Nepal

Medical Aid Films, United Kingdom

Midwives College of Uah, United States

Midwives Committee of Cyprus Nurses and Midwives Association, Cyprus

Mongolian Association of Obstetrics Gynecology and Neonatology MOGNA, Mongolia

MSI Reproductive Choices, United Kingdom

Naripokkho, Bangladesh

Nepal Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (NESOG), Nepal

New Lives Midwives, Canada

New Zealand College of Midwives, New Zealand

New Zealand Family Planning, New Zealand

Nurses and Midwives Association of Slovenia, Slovenia

Nursing Now Challenge, United Kingdom

NVOG (Dutch association of Obstetrics and Gynecology), Netherlands

Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Singapore, Singapore

Ordre des sages-femmes du Québec, Canada

North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology (NASPAG), United States

PAC-Net Women's Health and Youth Development Initiative, Nigeria

Pathfinder International, United States

People's Alliance for Reproductive Health Advocacy (PARHA), Sierra Leone

People's Health Movement (PHM), Canada

People's Health Movement (PHM), Brazil

People's Health Movement (PHM), South Africa

People's Health Movement (PHM), Colombia

Planning Familial de Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

Planning Familial Saint-Gilles asbl, Belgium

Population Council, United States

Population Services International (PSI), United States

Portuguese Society Of Contraception, Portugal

Prince Edward Island Midwives Association, Canada

pro familia Bundesverband, Germany

Profamilia, Colombia

Progress Educational Trust (PET), United Kingdom

PROMSEX, Centro de Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos, Peru

PUSH Campaign, United Kingdom

Radiological Society of South Africa, South Africa

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Australia

REDAAS Red Acceso al Aborto Seguro, Argentina

Rede Médica pelo Direito de Decidir - Doctors for Choice Brazil, Brazil

Reproductive Health Training Center, Moldova, Republic of

Regroupement Les sages-femmes du Québec, Canada

Reproductive Health Network Kenya, Kenya

Reproductive Health Services, Kenya

Réseau YHW4SA, Benin

RHAC, Cambodia

RHR Literacy Lab, Japan

Riksförbundet för Sexuell Upplysning, Sweden

Royal College of Anaesthetists, United Kingdom

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), United Kingdom

Royal College of Midwives, United Kingdom

Royal College of Physicians, United Kingdom

Royal Pharmaceutical Society, United Kingdom

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, United Kingdom

Rural Women Rights Foundation, RWRF, Liberia

Rutgers, Netherlands

Rwanda Health Initiative for youth and Women (RHIYW), Rwanda

Safe Abortion Action Fund, United Kingdom

Safe2Choose, India

Salamander Trust, United Kingdom

SheDecides, United Kingdom

SEDRA-Federación de Planificación Familiar, Spain

SeNonOraQuando?Torino, Japan

Sensoa, Belgium

Sex og Politikk, Norway

Sexpo Foundation, Finland

Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters, United Kingdom

Sexual Health Quarters, Australia

Sociedad Argentina de Ginecologia infanto Juvenil, Argentina

Sociedad Panamenã de Obstetricia y Ginecología (SPOG), Panama

Sociedad Peruana de Obstetricia y Ginecologia, Peru

Sociedade Portuguesa de Obstetrícia e Medicina Materno-Fetal, Portugal

Società Italiana di Ginecologia e Ostetricia (SIGO), Italy

Société Congolaise de la pratique Sage-femme (SCOSAF), Congo, the Democratic Republic of the

Société de Gynecologie et d'obstétrique de Cote d'Ivoire (SOGOCI), Cote d'ivoire (Ivory Coast)

Societé de Gynécologues et Obstétriciens du Burkina (SOGOB), Burkina Faso

Société Française de Maïeutique- SFMa, France

Société Luxembourgeoise de Gynécologie et d'Obstétrique, Luxembourg

Society of Midwives of South Africa (SOMSA), South Africa

Society of Obstetricians & Gynecologists of Pakistan (SOGP), Pakistan

Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, Canada

Society of Obstetric Medicine South Africa (SOOMSA), South Africa

South Asian Federation of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Sri Lanka

SSMC, United Arab Emirates

SODECA, Kenya

Solomon Island Planned Parenthood Association, Solomon Islands

South African Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (SASOG), South Africa

St. Lucia Planned Parenthood Association, Saint Lucia

SOS Femme, Enfants en Catastrophe, Congo, The Democratic Republic of The

South African Menopause Society, South Africa

START (Southern Taskforce on Abortion & Reproductive Topics), Ireland

Stony Brook Medicine, United States

Support to Development of Gynecology and Perinatology, Azerbaijan

The Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

The Swedish Association of Midwives, Sweden

Swedish Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sweden

Swedish Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sweden

Swedish Society of Nursing, Sweden

Swiss Federation of Midwives (SHV), Switzerland

Taiwan Association of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Taiwan

The BirthBliss Academy, United Kingdom

The Community Agenda, Uganda

The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, United Kingdom

The Federarion of Finnish Midwives, Finland

The Icelandic Midwives´ Association, Iceland

The Independent Midwives Association, Romania

The Nordic Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology (NFOG), Denmark

The Norwegian Midwifery Association, Norway

The PCOS Society of India, India

The Planned Parenthood Association of Thailand (PPAT), Thailand

The Swedish Association of Midwives, Sweden

TURGET Uganda, Uganda

Tusitukirewamu Group Bwaise, Uganda

UFPR, Brazil

Union of Czech Midwives, Czech Republic

union professionnelle des sages-femmesbelges, Belgium

Uplift International, United States

World Association of Trainees in Obstetrics & Gynecology (WATOG), India

World Diabetes Foundation, Denmark

Wellbeing of Women, United Kingdom

White Ribbon Alliance UK, United Kingdom

White Ribbon NL, Netherlands

WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform, Netherlands

Women and Children Welfare and Development Organization, Ethiopia

Women Deliver, United States

Women's Action Group, Zimbabwe

Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), United States

Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights Organization, Sierra Leone

Womens Rights Foundation, Malta

Working Party International Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health, Netherlands

Working party of international safe motherhood and reproductive health, Netherlands

World Association of Trainees in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Turkey

Young Healthy Safe, Rwanda

Younique Postnatal, United Kingdom

Zambia Association for Gynaecologists and Obstetricians (ZAGO), Zambia

 

Join the global list of organisational signatories

 

About FIGO

FIGO is a professional membership organisation that brings together more than 130 obstetrical and gynaecological associations from all over the world. FIGO’s vision is that women of the world achieve the highest possible standards of physical, mental, reproductive and sexual health and wellbeing throughout their lives. Our work to achieve this vision is built on four pillars: education, research implementation, advocacy and capacity building.

FIGO leads on global programme activities, with a particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia. We advocate on a global stage, especially in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) pertaining to reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and wellbeing, and non-communicable diseases (SDG3). We also work to raise the status of women and enable their active participation in achieving their reproductive and sexual rights, including through addressing female-genital mutilation (FGM) and gender-based violence (SDG5).

We also provide education and training for our Member Societies and build capacities of those in low-resource countries through strengthening leadership, translating and disseminating good practice and promoting policy dialogues.

FIGO is in official relations with the World Health Organization and a consultative status with the United Nations.

About the language we use

Within our documents, we often use the terms ‘woman’, ‘girl’ and ‘women and girls’. We recognise that not all people who require access to gynaecological and obstetric services identify as a woman or girl. All individuals, regardless of gender identity, must be provided with access to appropriate, inclusive and sensitive services and care.

We also use the term ‘family’. When we do, we are referring to a recognised group (perhaps joined by blood, marriage, partnership, cohabitation or adoption) that forms an emotional connection and serves as a unit of society.

FIGO acknowledges that some of the language we use is not naturally inclusive. We are undertaking a thorough review of the words and phrases we use to describe people, health, wellbeing and rights, to demonstrate our commitment to developing and delivering inclusive policies, programmes and services.

Referencing this statement

International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics. As the US Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade, global health care organisations call on all governments to defend access to safe and quality abortion care. 2022. Available from: https://www.figo.org/us-supreme-court-overturns-roe-v-wade-global-organisations-defend-abortion

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