Advocating for Safe Abortion Project

FIGO’s Advocating for Safe Abortion Project works on international, regional and national levels to improve access to safe, quality abortion services.

Project contact

To contact the project team to ask a question about their work or to seek opportunities for collaboration, please click below.

Jessica Morris, Senior Project Manager

The importance of safe abortion

FIGO regards reproductive choice, including access to safe and quality abortion care, as a basic and non-negotiable tool for ensuring the human rights of every woman and girl, not just in one region or country, but globally.

Legal restrictions on abortion do not reduce the number of abortions but increase the number of abortions that are unsafe. In addition to legal restrictions, regulatory requirements such as approvals and mandated waiting times, stigma, economic factors, and service delivery factors such a lack of providers due to refusals and/or long distance to facilities also act as barriers to access which may result in women/girls turning to unsafe measures.

Lack of access to safe abortion due to these barriers results in 45% of all abortions globally being unsafe. Unsafe abortion remains a catastrophic public health problem accounting for up to 13 percent of preventable maternal mortality worldwide (nearly 39,000 preventable maternal deaths a year), with hundreds of thousands of survivors living with preventable long-term complications, including infertility and chronic pain.

Lack of access to abortion care affects disproportionately impacts those living in poverty; those with marginalised racial, ethnic identities; adolescents; and those living in rural areas, further exacerbating their historical discrimination and mistreatment, and placing them at the greatest risk of preventable maternal death and disability.

What we do

FIGO is working with National Member Societies to support their work  improving access to  safe and quality abortion care and to reach their potential as leaders in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in their respective countries.

National Member Societies of Obstetrics and Gynaecology are in a unique position to be national SRHR advocates due to being respected for their technical expertise, frontline health care insights, and close relationships with other partners including the Ministry of Health.

We work with these societies to amplify their evidence and critical insights, to inform and influence international advocacy policy making, with the aim of nurturing accountability of governments on the delivery of the SRHR obligations.

FIGO works with a broad array of international partners on this project, as well as the following African regional partners: East, Central and Southern Africa College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ECSACOG), and Societe Africaine des Gynecolgues Obstetriciens (SAGO) in Francophone West Africa.

The Project team works closely with the FIGO Committee on Safe Abortion on communications and advocacy campaigns, statements, training and implementation of WHO best-practice guidelines.

Project details

Previously, from April 2019 – March 2022 the Advocating for Safe Abortion Project worked with the following National Member Societies:

West Africa:

East, Central, Southern Africa:

Latin America:

From 2022-2023 the project will specifically focus on the African countries mentioned above, and will work with two additional National Member Societies:

The Projects aims to deliver change through two pillars:

Pillar 1: Institutional Strengthening

  • Support societies to strengthen organisational structures to deliver their objective effectively, areas include:  office management and human resources, governance and leadership, project and financial management, advocacy and communications, and partnerships and influencing.
  • Leverage member societies’ position and expertise to be a national leader on SRHR.

Pillar 2: Safe Abortion Advocacy

  • Harness the pivotal role of the society to engage with their government, and deliver on advocacy objectives as part of national SRHR networks.
  • Work with healthcare providers to enable them by increasing their knowledge of the issues linked to safe abortion care and deepen their understanding of legal (national and international) obligations and standards to deliver safe and quality abortion care
  • Address stigma related to abortion among health care workers and decision-makers using the Values, Clarification and Attitude tools and through dissemination and interaction with scientific-based evidence.

Find out more by reading through the project's Theory of Change. 

FIGO’s Advocating for Safe Abortion long-term project impact is to remove barriers and challenges faced by pregnant people seeking access to safe and quality abortion care, and to support and enable health care workers to effectively carry out their responsibilities to provide sexual, reproductive health care and rights.