Safe Abortion and Postabortion Care
Unsafe abortion is a critical public health concern in most developing countries. Every year 22,000 women die as a result of unsafe abortion, accounting for 13 percent of all maternal deaths worldwide. Where abortion is highly restricted or where safe abortion services are costly or hard to find, complications from an unsafe abortion are far too common.
Pathfinder believes access to abortion services is not only a public health imperative, it is also every woman's right. As part of our mission, Pathfinder helps ensure the availability of safe, legal abortion services that are performed by well-trained providers so that every woman has options and can make choices about what is best for her wellbeing and future.
As a founding member of the Postabortion Care Consortium, Pathfinder helped develop the concept of postabortion care as an important, emerging area of reproductive health. Quality postabortion care is critical to treat complications of unsafe abortion and save lives. It includes emergency treatment, contraceptive counseling and supplies, and follow up and referral for other reproductive health services.
Pathfinder believes that while all women should have access to safe abortion services, the key to reducing reliance on abortion is providing women with the means to safely control their fertility. The myriad reasons a woman might face an unwanted pregnancy-lack of access to or failure of contraception, lack of power to use family planning in her relationship, gender inequality, violence, or social and religious pressure-cannot all be eliminated. However, these challenges can be greatly reduced through ensuring availability of sexual and reproductive health care services.
We have five key approaches for all of our comprehensive abortion and postabortion care work:
- Integrate comprehensive abortion care into standard sexual and reproductive health services to optimize availability and access.
- Expand the number of trained providers who can sensitively counsel and provide abortion services. This includes expanding access to medical abortion (i.e., Misoprostol) to increase choice and bring services closer to the community.
- Improving youth-friendly services with special attention to the stigma and barriers for youth that result in higher mortality and morbidity for young women.
- Enabling a supportive environment through community mobilization to ensure the right of women to access abortion services, dispelling myths, lowering the risks of unwanted pregnancy, and minimizing delays in seeking care.
- Advocating with health, legislative, and other governmental officials for supportive policies.
Currently, Pathfinder has a range of projects related to abortion services and advocacy around the world.
Expanding and Sustaining Safe Abortion Services in Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa through the Safe Abortion Action Fund
Pathfinder built upon existing efforts to expand and create sustainable safe abortion services in Ghana, Mozambique, and South Africa. The overarching goal of this project was to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality due to unsafe abortion.
Expanding Safe Abortion Services through the Provision of an Integrated Package of Care, Treatment, and Prevention Services in Gaza and Inhambane Provinces, Mozambique
Pathfinder is providing technical assistance at the provincial level and expanding facility-community linkages to increase post-abortion contraception uptake.
In South Africa, Pathfinder worked to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality due to unsafe abortion.
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Cet outil vise à aider les organisations à évaluer le contexte juridique de l’avortement et le contexte sur le terrain et identifier les opportunités pour améliorer l’accès à l’avortement sécurisé à travers un changement des politiques.
The move is a victory for women, because it's not so "restrictive" anymore, said Ivone Zilhao a Maputo-based sexual and reproductive health doctor with Pathfinder
For over 40 years, the Helms Amendment has been applied as a complete ban on abortion care in U.S.-funded global health programs -- with no exceptions.
Policy makers in the United States continue to dictate “what’s best” for women’s health with zero regard for the women themselves. Meanwhile, the world’s women pay the price with their freedom and their lives.
Forty-one years after Roe v. Wade, we’re losing ground on the right to abortion, and what’s more, we’re exporting our regressive policies elsewhere.