What is International Safe Abortion Day?

28 September is an 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 frequently make statements in support of the day, and a growing number of media outlets report national, regional and international events and write articles on the theme.

In 2011, the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights declared 28 September as an international day and began to motivate activities in other regions.

In May 2012, the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion was formed and adopted the Day of Action as one of its most important activities.

Since then, 28 September has become an internationally recognised day for grassroots activism in support of universal access to safe abortion. It engages advocates, policymakers and healthcare professionals from around the world in a united call to countries and health services to respect, protect and fulfil the right to safe abortion.

In 2013, activities were organised in more than 60 countries by national, regional and international NGOs and networks in almost all regions.

In 2014, there were 100 activities in 65 countries. Our activities were having an effect. The day itself and the need for safe abortion were increasingly being acknowledged by a growing number of government leaders and in the press and media.

In 2015, we proposed to change the name of the day to International Safe Abortion Day. This was for two reasons. First, there were two different names for the day being used by two different international women’s groups, one from 1988 and the other from 2011. Both names were long and complicated and were being mixed up with each other on a regular basis. Translation into other languages was also complicated. It seemed a good idea to drop them both and have a far simpler name that everyone could remember. Second, when we decided to try and apply for the day of action to become an official UN day, the new name seemed more appropriate for this purpose.

In May 2016, we sent an Open Letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of the then seven main UN agencies, asking them to make 28 September an official UN day. They didn’t agree but they did commit to giving the issues more attention, and they have. Perhaps it’s time to ask again!!

Planning for the day of action involves a growing list of regional and international groups who participate in regular international planning meetings, choose the theme and hashtags, find illustrators, and prepare a toolkit. Visuals and photographs from events abound and are an incredible record, along with social media reports. In the past 6 or 7 years, in October/November, the Campaign has published all the action reports and visuals we are sent, as well as summaries of all the media reports we can find in several languages.

Themes//Hashtags – 2012 to 2022

2012 – Motherhood: only if I want, only if I can  ???

2013 – Break the silence–End the stigma //  #SafeAbortion #Sept28

2014 – Diverse actions–Different places–One demand!  // #Sept28, #AbortionStigma and #AbortoLegal

2015 – End abortion stigma–Illegal abortion=violence against women // #AbortTheStigma #NoMoreStigma #MarchForChoice #StepIntoOurShoes #LetsTalkAbortion #BustTheMyths

2016 – Abortion is not a crime! // #NotACriminal  #NoMoreProsecutions  #TrustWomen

2017 –  Leaving no one behind [OR Decriminalise abortion] // #NotACriminal

2018 – Normalising abortion: it’s part of our lives // #Let’sTalkAbortion

2019 – Abortion is healthcare // #MyAbortionMyHealth

2020 – Telemedicine and self-managed abortion // #IManageMyAbortion

2021 – Safe abortion is essential healthcare // #MakeUnsafeAbortionHistory

2022 – Theme 1: Abortion in uncertain times // #SafeAbortionRegardless
Theme 2: Youth activism // #BuildingSafeSpacesForSafeAbortion, #InternetForAbortionRights, #SocialMediaForAbortionRights, #ChallengeMisinformation

Reports with photographs of all the activities organised by groups around the world each year can be found here.