Safe Abortion and Postabortion Care

Photo by Amy Coughlin

Pathfinder provides comprehensive abortion care in conjunction with other sexual and reproductive health care services, including postabortion counseling about contraceptives to avoid future unplanned pregnancies.

To ensure women can receive high-quality care in a welcoming environment, Pathfinder builds the clinical skills of providers and helps them identify and manage their own personal prejudices against abortion. (MOZAMBIQUE)

At a mosque in Ghana, community members discuss abortion, dispel myths, and learn the risks of delaying postabortion care.

Photo by Mary Burket

Pathfinder reaches youth where they are—through their schools, teachers, parents, and peer educators—with services that address their particular vulnerabilities to unsafe abortion. (KENYA)

Photo by John Lazame Tindanbil

At Pathfinder, we have consistently taken a stand to make sure abortion is included in worldwide discussions about improving women’s health and lives.

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.

Related Projects

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.

Related Publications

May 2015

Resposta Multissectorial à Violência Baseada No Género em Moçambique (multiple languages)

This Portuguese translation of a Pathfinder technical brief explores implementation of a multisectoral approach to GBV prevention and response across two projects in Mozambique, and outlines key lessons learned and next steps.

January 2015

Multisectoral Responses to Gender-based Violence in Mozambique (multiple languages)

The complex constellation of factors that underlie and reinforce gender-based violence warrants a strong multi-level and multisectoral response.

December 2014

Training Materials on US Government Policy & Legislative Requirements (Multiple Languages)

This training package serves to help Pathfinder (and other international NGOs) and their partners ensure compliance with US government legislative and policy requirements for contraception programs.

December 2014

Programme de Formation sur les Politiques et Exigences Législatives du Gouvernement des Etats-Unis en matière de Planification Familiale (Multiple Languages)

This training package serves to help Pathfinder (and other international NGOs) and their partners ensure compliance with US government legislative and policy requirements for contraception programs.

Related News

Conférence débat sur la problématique des grossesses non désirées chez les adolescents et jeunes en RD Congo

A l’occasion de la journée internationale pour la dépénalisation de l’avortement célébré chaque 28 septembre, le Programme National de Santé de l’Adolescent en collaboration avec Pathfinder, a organisé le jeudi 01 octobre dernier dans la salle de paroisse « sacré cœur » de Gombe, à Kinshasa, une journée de réflexion sur les grossesses non désirés chez les adolescents et les jeunes en RDC.

Pathfinder Joins Global Day of Action for Access to Safe, Legal Abortion

Sept 28
On September 28th, Pathfinder International will join national and international women’s health groups around the world to mark the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion.

Mozambique Legalises Abortion to Stem Maternal Deaths

President Armando Guebuza on Thursday quietly signed into law a revised penal code bill that eases prohibitions in abortion regulations, a move hailed by health groups.

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

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