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

September 2014

Analyse des Politiques sur l’Avortement pour le Plaidoyer (Multiple Languages)

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.

September 2014

Abortion Policy Scan for Advocacy (Multiple Languages)

This tool is intended to help organizations assess the legal context for abortion; assess the actual/on-the-ground context for abortion; and identify challenges to and opportunities for improving access to safe abortion through policy change.

December 2013

The Way We Live: Advancing Health & Rights Through Integration

In a year of remarkable achievement, including Pathfinder’s landmark victory at the US Supreme Court and our return to Bangladesh with a $53.8 million project, what was most exciting? The answer—integration—is the theme of Pathfinder’s 2013 Annual Report.

August 2013

Straight to the Point: Identificando e Priorizando Necessidade de Mudança de Comportamento (Multiple Languages)

Organizações e grupos podem usar esta ferramenta para orientar actividades em grupo com membros da comunidade com quem eles estão a trabalhar.


Related News

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.

Get Angry: 41 Years After ‘Roe,’ Thousands of Women Are Dying From Unsafe Abortions

41 years after Roe v. Wade, women continue to lose their lives to unsafe abortion because of regressive policies here in the US and abroad. Enough is enough

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.

Ethiopian Women Pay High Price for US Aid Abortion Restrictions

Despite tremendous progress on family planning in Ethiopia, organizations like Pathfinder still see Ethiopian women paying a high price for USAID abortion restrictions related to the Helms Amendment.

"Any primary health clinic that doesn't provide abortions is a missed opportunity," said Demet Güral, a physician and vice-president of programmes at Pathfinder International.

Even if women have access to contraception, there are always failure rates, says Güral, and it is essential they can access safe abortion if needed.

"Especially for youth; most are not married, they have a future. How can you talk about family planning for youth and not talk about abortion?

Scroll to top