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.

Tania, a nurse in Mozambique, knows how women suffer from unsafe abortions. She's seen it:

Related Projects

Expanding and Sustaining Safe Abortion Services in Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa through the Safe Abortion Action Fund

PAST PROJECT: 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

PAST PROJECT: Pathfinder provided technical assistance at the provincial level and expanding facility-community linkages to increase post-abortion contraception uptake.

Related Publications

May 2016

Strategies to Advance Abortion Rights and Access in Restrictive Settings: A Cross-Country Analysis

This publication explores strategies to advance abortion access and rights in four countries—Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, and DRC—with differing degrees of legal and social restrictiveness. Through semi-structured interviews with Pathfinder field offices and partners, this publication highlights approaches to advance abortion access and rights common across all four countries, as well as approaches unique to each country’s legal and social context.

December 2015

Without Fear or Boundary: Pathfinder International's 2015 Annual Report

Forging a new path is part of Pathfinder’s DNA. Last year, in 26 developing countries, we pushed through barriers to ensure millions of women, men, and young people are able to access critical sexual and reproductive health care and choose their own paths forward. Read more in our 2015 Annual Report.

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.

Related News

Abortion Checklist Promises Safer Procedures

This new toolkit speeds up healthcare decisions to help women get earlier, safer abortions. Already tested in Ethiopia, India, and South Africa, it includes risk checklist and urine pregnancy test.

“Working with sensitised community health workers can encourage women [to assess] their options and rights regarding unwanted pregnancy,” Ellen Israel says. “This checklist is just one example of the many steps needed to expand health worker roles to increase access to safe abortion care.”

Pathfinder to Lead Post-Abortion Care (PAC) Consortium

Pathfinder International assumed the Chair of the PAC Consortium today during an auxiliary event to the International Conference on Family Planning.

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.
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