TO: Women, Health Systems, Governments, UNHuman Rights Bodies and WHO
We Need a Rational Policy for Safe Abortion inEvery Country NOW!
Every day, in every country of the world, women haveabortions. Each year, globally, there are 56 million abortions, or an averageof 154,000 abortions every single day. Some 45% of those abortions are stillunsafe in spite of 100 years of national and international campaigns for safe,legal abortions.
In almost every country, even where abortions are safe,access to abortion is restricted by antediluvian, punitive and medically unnecessarylaws and regulations. The only way many women manage to have abortions at allis if they or an abortion care provider breaks the law in some minor or major way– 25 million times each year if we count only the unsafe abortions. The seriouseffect of the COVID-19 virus on all our lives has put this absurdity into sharprelief.
Abortion clinics are being closed as part of the response toCOVID-19, e.g. in Brazil and the USA. Medical abortion pills cause an abortion ina way that is very similar to a spontaneous miscarriage. They are 98% effectivein ending a pregnancy when used correctly, both the combination of mifepristoneand misoprostol, and misoprostol alone. Millions of women have used the pills safely,including in their own living spaces. Every country could and should move mostabortions out of hospitals and clinics by ensuring women can get abortion pillsand self-manage their abortions up to 10-12 weeks at home, with a number tocall for advice and back-up care if needed.
WE CALL ON:
UN Human Rights Bodies to:
- declare that universal access to safeabortion for everyone who requests it is a human right, an essential part ofUniversal Health Coverage and an ongoing urgent public health priority.
The World Health Organizationto make a public statement to be sent to all governments and Ministers of Health,stating that:
- abortion is an essential health serviceand all barriers to accessing safe abortions, especially to obtaining abortionpills and self-management of abortion, should be set aside;
- medical abortion pills (mifepristone andmisoprostol) are essential medicinesand should be approved for use in all countries;
- Ministers of Health should approve the use of telemedicine forprovision of medical abortion pills, thus allowing many women to remain at home;to have direct access to abortion pills in pharmacies and by mail, and with informationon how to use them. Providers could be pharmacists, nurses, midwives, GPs andabortion information hotlines – without needing an in-person visit.
Governments & Health Systemsto:
- liftrestrictions on ordering essential medicines from other countries;
- facilitatepharmacy access to medicalabortion pills by permitting direct ordering;
- suspend customs regulationsthat create barriers for countries to import and export essential medicines andfor pharmaceutical companies to be able to ship essential medicines abroadwithout regulatory delays, including abortion pills and contraceptives.
International Campaign members,health professionals & colleagues to:
- advocate that your governmenttakes the above essential actions;
- workwith and support national abortion information hotlines to provide women with accurate informationand support for the self-management of abortion and where to obtain abortionpills;
- initiate(and work with others to initiate) national abortion information hotlines in countries where they do not yet exist.
- where it is safe to do so, share information with womenand ask supportive journalists to write articles on how to self-manageabortions safely and effectively at home; and also share informationon where to seek help for those who need a surgical abortion, especiallyabortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Everyone who is able to getpregnantto:
- always use condoms and/or effectivecontraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancy;
- if you have no access to these methods,enjoy safer sex without penile-vaginal contact. There are many safe ways – useyour imagination! Or give up sex for a bit – also known as social distancing!
- if you think you are pregnant and don’twant to be, do not delay in seeking abortion pills to end thepregnancy. Used correctly, the pills are effective from the point when youfirst miss your period. Mifepristone is not yet available in many countries, butyou can use misoprostol alone. It can be just as effective if you follow theinstructions.