Pathfinder Celebrates 40 Years of Roe v. Wade; Challenges for Access to Safe, Legal Abortion Worldwide Remain

Pathfinder International joins our friends, supporters, and allies around the world in celebrating the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the momentous Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States. As a proud member of the sexual and reproductive health community, Pathfinder applauds the brave efforts of advocates, past and present, who have believed in and have fought for a woman’s right to access safe, legal abortion services.

But as we commemorate this historic occasion, we are reminded of the stark realities women still face. Despite the notable gains made for women’s rights and health in the past 40 years, there is still work to be done.

In 2012, we were horrified to learn that Savita Halappanavar, a young Indian woman living in Ireland, died of blood poisoning after being denied an abortion that could have saved her life.

Sadly, Savita’s story isn’t uncommon. She is one of thousands of victims of restrictive abortion policy worldwide.

At Pathfinder, we believe that all women, no matter where they live, should have the right to make their own decisions about their bodies and reproductive health care needs.Around the world, in many of the countries where Pathfinder works, access to safe, legal abortion is limited—by law, stigma, distance to services, lack of trained providers, and cost. This results in staggeringly high numbers of unsafe abortions. Nearly half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, and nearly 98 percent of all unsafe abortions occur in developing countries. Even in countries where abortion is not limited, like India and South Africa, unsafe abortions are prevalent.

Many of the same women often face major challenges when accessing contraception and family planning services needed to help them prevent unintended pregnancies. Today, nearly 222 million women worldwide want to avoid or postpone pregnancy, but are not using a modern contraceptive method.

“It is a basic health imperative that women have access to a full range of sexual and reproductive health services, and that includes access to safe, legal abortion,” Purnima Mane, president of Pathfinder International, said. “Every woman should be able to make decisions about her own body. Period.”

At Pathfinder, we believe that providing better access to contraception and family planning services is one of the most important ways to empower women and their families. And we believe that all women should have legal, safe access to abortion services, whether they reside in United States or Mozambique, Ireland or India.

Please stand with us by sharing our US abortion policy timeline on Twitter using #Roe40 or by sharing a supportive message on Facebook.

Type: Press Release
Focus Area: Abortion

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Please contact Kate Stookey, Director of Public Affairs, at 617-972-1231 or

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