28 September, International Safe Abortion Day, is the annual day of action in support of the right to safe abortion. It has been celebrated since 1990 in Latin America, and since 2011 around the world. Recent years have seen hundreds of activities in dozens of countries across all global regions. National and world leaders have begun to make statements in support of the day, and a growing number of media outlets report national and international events and write articles on the theme.
Our theme for 2022
“Abortion in uncertain times”
Uncertainty strongly affects how women feel about having children.
These are uncertain times – the causes are many and different in every part of the world: political crises and uprisings, military actions, wars, invasions, coups, humanitarian crises, refugee crises, migration crises, economic crises, public health and health services crises, food emergencies, climate emergencies, the Covid-19 pandemic, continuing and increasing poverty, continuing and increased unemployment and uncertain pay, inflation and cost of living rises, breakdowns in internet communication (which especially affect young people).
There is also a rise in fundamentalism and authoritarianism, both religious and political.
There is supply chain instability in regard to medications and SRH products – manufacturing them, transporting them, problems with using the mail for sending them.
And there are all the difficulties of having children in every one of these situations when housing, food, health care, maternity services and protection and support for pregnant women and children, let alone access to contraception and abortion services, are absent or not ensured. Women are migrating in greater and greater numbers across the world, for example, often pregnant and/or with children, and having terrible problems.
In some countries, uncertain times feel permanent. So we need to say “protect women, protect abortion care” even in uncertain times” or “especially in uncertain times”.
The theme is not only meant to address things that are negative, however. At the same time, it is empowering, it raises the possibility of something we need and want, posing abortion in a positive way – that we must have access to safe abortion in uncertain times,
The theme can focus on personal experiences of all kinds, including positive ones, in spite of uncertain times, and on positive improvements in law, policy and service delivery, e.g. telemedicine consultations has been permitted and implemented in several countries during the pandemic and then made permanent, and a growing number of safe abortion information hotlines are being opened. Self-managed abortion with pills has been deemed safe up to 12 weeks and new guidance by the World Health Organization.
There have been important abortion law reform victories in spite of the pandemic as well, e.g. in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Benin and Kenya. Positive changes like these should be shared and campaigned for everywhere.
But there have been serious setbacks for women too – e.g. in Afghanistan, Poland, Iran, China, USA. The political, cultural and social reasons for policies promoting forced pregnancy and motherhood – to control and restrict women’s lives – need to be exposed and opposed.
Sub-theme: “Young activism and the way social media have become an important space for youth activism”
After discussion, we agreed this should be a sub-theme in the call for action – because it is a good focus, and very true in the context of uncertain times. And in a positive way, it is important to focus on the visibility of young women on social media, which has been especially strong during the pandemic, and in the movement for the right to safe abortion.
Hashtags proposed on the theme of uncertain times:
– …“accompanied/cared for/loved”… …”we persist, we celebrate, we honour”….
– (Safe) abortion regardless of… (the war), (fundamentalism)… etc
– Together we support abortion, regardless of…
– Women will have abortions regardless of bad laws, even though they may be unsafe.
Hashtags proposed on the theme of young activism and the importance of social media:
– #SafeSpacesForSafeAbortion / #BuildingSafeSpacesForSafeAbortion
Ask your members for case studies and personal experiences
It was agreed that each INGO could gather case studies from their own members to share as part of campaigning – to articulate how they are experiencing uncertain times locally, nationally and regionally, and affecting the ability to access safe abortion. And especially to illustrate how they/we are persisting! Inroads will act as coordinator of this.
– International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion (ICWRSA), UK
– Young Activist Network for Abortion Advocacy (YANAA/ICWRSA), India
– Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR), Philippines & Tanzania
– ASTRA Central & Eastern European Network for SRHR, Poland
– Organisation pour le Dialogue pour l’Avortement Sécurisé (ODAS), Francophone Africa, Côte d’Ivoire
– Rights and Access of Women to Safe Abortion, Middle East & North Africa Network (RAWSA MENA), Tunisia/Egypt
– Mama Network, Kenya
– Women Help Women, Netherlands
– International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), UK
– European Safe Abortion Networking Group, Sweden
– Consorcio Latinoamericano contra el Aborto Inseguro (CLACAI), Peru
– Inroads, USA
– Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW), Malaysia
– Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP), India
– Central European & Western Asia Regional Network, Moldova
– Global Doctors for Choice, USA