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.
SHE WAS BLEEDING FOR A MONTH Tania, a nurse in Mozambique, knows how women suffer from unsafe abortions. She's seen it:
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.
In South Africa, Pathfinder worked to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality due to unsafe abortion.
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.
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.
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.
The complex constellation of factors that underlie and reinforce gender-based violence warrants a strong multi-level and multisectoral response.
“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.”