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 47,000 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

January 2015

Multisectoral Responses to Gender-based Violence in Mozambique

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

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.

December 2014

Pacote de Formação sobre os Requisitos Legais e de Políticas do Governo dos EUA para o Planeamento Familiar (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

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.

Related News

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

More than 20 organizations hold White House Rally to help women raped in conflict

More than 20 organizations from around the world joined with the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) in support of a rally today in front of the White House to stand with women and girls raped in conflict

Death-dealing double standard of US policies toward women overseas

Ipas's Liz Maguire and Pathfinder's President + CEO Purnima Mane stand up for women's health overseas in an op-ed against the Helms Amendment.

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.

Roe v. Wade Anniversary Calls for Redoubling of Support for Women’s Rights to Safe, Legal Abortion Worldwide

On a day that should be reserved for celebrating progress on women’s rights, Pathfinder is deeply concerned about the negative effects domestic policy battles could have on US foreign policy and safe abortion rights in the countries where we work.
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