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Sep 28, 2021

Safe abortion fundamental rights of women

Sandhya Shrestha
File Photo: Demonstrators hold placards and candles in memory of Indian Savita Halappanavar in support of legislative change on abortion during a march from the Garden of Remembrance to the Dail (Irish Parliament) in Dublin, Ireland AFP Image
File Photo: Demonstrators hold placards and candles in memory of Indian Savita Halappanavar in support of legislative change on abortion during a march from the Garden of Remembrance to the Dail (Irish Parliament) in Dublin, Ireland AFP Image

International Safe Abortion Day being marked

Today-28 September is International Safe Abortion Day.

The day was first celebrated as a day of action for decriminalization of abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean in 1990 by the Campaña 28 Septiembre.

In 2011, the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) declared 28 September as an international day.

World Health Organization (WHO) defines, abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus. But an abortion that occurs without intervention is known as a miscarriage or “spontaneous abortion” and occurs in approximately 30% to 40% of pregnancies.

Abortion remains a stigmatized issue. This can hinder access to safe abortion, particularly for women living in poverty or places where access to effective contraception and safe abortion is limited or unavailable.

Every individual has the right to decide freely and responsibly – without discrimination, coercion and violence regarding the number, spacing and timing of their children. As so, every woman of the nook and corner of the globe must have the right to decide what to do with their bodies with attainment of the highest possible level of sexual and reproductive health. 

File Photo: A demonstrator paints a legend on the street in demand of women’s access to safe, free and legal abortion, during a rally outside the National Congress in Buenos Aires. Photo: Eitan Abramovich/AFP

As per report, in developing nations, three out of ten of all pregnancies end in induced abortion. Nearly half of all abortions are unsafe, and almost all of these unsafe abortions.

Unsafe abortion can lead to immediate health risks – including death – as well as long-term complications, affecting women’s physical and mental health and well- being throughout her life-course. As report by the WHO, unsafe abortions currently cause up to 39,000 preventable deaths each year.

Thus, abortions must be safe. The women should have carried out abortion with a method recommended by WHO and with an appropriate medical person poses medical skills.

When women with unwanted pregnancies do not have access to safe abortion, they often resort to unsafe abortion. Unsafe abortion procedures may involve the insertion of an object or substance (root, twig, or catheter or traditional concoction) into the uterus; dilatation and curettage performed incorrectly by an unskilled provider; ingestion of harmful substances; and application of external force.

Thus, International Safe Abortion Day aims to raise awareness on the importance of access to safe, high quality abortion care to protect the health and promote the rights of women and girls.

Delayed access leads to unsafe abortions, creating a different burden of care for health systems. So, self-managed abortion with pills is a safe.

However, the alternative of clinic-based care for those unable to cope with it, at primary level whenever possible, must remain available as well.

As Abortion is a fundamental rights of women, the countries must remove laws and policies restricting the right to safe abortion on request.

It is must to develop vigorous advocacy campaigns to demonstrate to governments and health professionals the safety, efficacy and acceptability of de-medicalized approaches to safe abortion as part of universal health coverage.

Marking Safe Abortion day, various activities have been organized in many countries and a growing number of media outlets report national and international events.

In Nepal

Thank God! Nepal has legalized abortion in 2002. The then Soviet Union was the first country in the world who legalize all abortions in 1920. Likewise, abortion is legal in most European countries and also in the US, Canada, Australia. 95% of European women of reproductive age live in countries which allow abortion on demand or for broad socioeconomic reasons.

In some countries like Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, South Australia, South Korea and Thailand have progressive abortion law reform and working for better law to improve access to abortion.

Abortion in Japan is available to women in limited circumstances, including endangerment of their health or economic hardship. 

According to World Population Review there are still 25 countries where abortion is prohibited in any forms. Abortion remains illegal in the many countries of Latin America including Honduras, some countries in East Europe, many nations in Africa including Egypt, Asia including Philippines, Middle East including Iraq.

Reminder is that as of September 1, 2021, abortion is prohibited in Texas, state of the USA, once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which may be as early as 6 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy. In those places, the situation has gone from bad to worse with restrictions by the governments.

Over the last 25 years, more than 50 countries have changed their laws to allow for greater access to abortion.

While barriers to safe abortion services persist, so will the continued demand for medical abortion provision through pharmacies. Women around the world, of all ages, races, nationalities, and religions, must have right to abortion. It’s estimated that one in three women will experience an abortion at some point during her lifetime. Yet a heavy stigma remains that keeps women suffering in silence.

An abortion is a medical procedure that ends a pregnancy. It is a basic healthcare need for millions of women, girls and others who can become pregnant. Ending a pregnancy is a common decision that millions of people make every year.

Worldwide, an estimated 1 in 4 pregnancies end in an abortion every year. In fact, access to abortion is one of the most hotly contested topics globally, and the debate is clouded by misinformation about the true ramifications of restricting access to this basic healthcare service.

And regardless of whether abortion is legal or not, people still require and regularly access abortion services.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a US-based reproductive health non-profit, the abortion rate is 37 per 1,000 people in countries that prohibit abortion altogether or allow it only in instances to save a woman’s life, and 34 per 1,000 people in countries that broadly allow for abortion, a difference that is not statistically significant.

The Institute estimates that 25 million unsafe abortions take place each year, the vast majority of them in developing countries.

Pro-abortion activists with green bandanas that read in Spanish “Free Abortion,” protest in front of Colombia’s Constitutional Court in Bogota. Photo Credit AP

Evidence shows that abortion rates are higher in countries where there is limited access to contraception. Thus, toward avoiding maternal deaths it is must to ensure that people have access to sex education, are able to use effective contraception, have safe and legal abortion, and are given timely care for complications.


Access to abortion is therefore fundamentally linked to protecting and upholding the human rights of women, girls and others who can become pregnant, and thus for achieving social and gender justice.

Amnesty International believes that everyone should be free to exercise their bodily autonomy and make their own decisions about their reproductive lives including when and if they have children. It is essential that laws relating to abortion respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of pregnant persons and not force them to seek out unsafe abortions.