These are uncertain times!
In June 2022, a majority of justices on the United States Supreme Court egregiously denied that there is a constitutional right to access safe & legal abortion. But this was not a unique act of violence against women. In October 2021, China who for many years forced women to have abortions after only one child, imposed a new law to force them to have more children by restricting abortion for “non-medical purposes”. In November 2021, Iran imposed a criminal law that severely restricts access to abortion, contraception, voluntary sterilization and related information. Similarly in Poland in 2020 and Honduras in 2021.
Indeed, violations of women’s rights like these are enshrined in many unjust laws and are widespread in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific, and Europe too.
In spite of more than 100 years of campaigns in country after country around the world for the right to safe abortion, the continuing criminalization of abortion kills and harms countless thousands of women every year, especially young and single women and those without the contacts and resources to obtain a safe abortion. This situation is often grounded in colonial laws that have never been abolished, and are supported by right-wing and anti-women governments, politicians, judges and religious leaders.
The unprecedented attack on women’s abortion rights in the United States this month, as in every country where such attacks occur, denies us our rights as citizens, discriminates against us on grounds of sex, removes our right to privacy and bodily autonomy, violates the separation of church and state, and destroys the rule of law. Most importantly, it allows states to force women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, with lifelong consequences. This is a form of involuntary servitude based entirely in biology. It criminalizes one in four of us globally for refusing to have children we do not want and cannot care for.
It also violates international human rights law in numerous ways – starting with the overarching right to life and health, which includes all women, the right to decide the number and spacing of our children, and the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that human rights begin at birth, i.e. at the beginning of independent life.
Anti-abortion laws and policies are grounded in the hatred of women and the desire to control us. They claim to want to protect “fetal life” but fail utterly to protect women’s lives, let alone the lives of children after they are born. They cause anger, despair and protest across the world, wherever and whenever and upon whomever they are imposed.
But unjust laws that criminalize us and deny our fundamental rights, unjust wars and invasions, global pandemics, repressive governments, discrimination, and other intersecting crises and injustices, have not deterred our commitment to fight for our rights and fundamental freedoms, including access to safe abortion. They have only pushed us to be braver, louder, bolder and more creative.
Uncertain times call for diverse, collective action on many fronts! Here are some of those key actions:
In uncertain times, we reinforce our commitment, build and strengthen our networks of support to ensure #SafeAbortionRegardless. We create and support community hotlines, collectives of abortion doulas and acompañantes, ways to access abortion pills, and diverse communities of care to look after each other.
In uncertain times, we mobilize to demand safe, legal, accessible, and stigma-free abortion care available for all who need it. We refuse to shut down or to back down, and we mobilize and organize using the tools at our disposal and adapting to the realities of our communities.
In uncertain times, we identify, question, confront and reject the multiple stigmatizing ideas and messages about abortion that we learned growing up in repressive anti-choice societies. We commit to challenging and dismantling abortion stigma within ourselves, our language, our communities, and our networks.
In uncertain times, we call on our governments, healthcare providers, donor organizations and women’s and human rights groups to mobilize the resources and power to support and protect safe abortion access. We seek to work with donors and governments to mobilize the vital resources needed to power access to our reproductive rights.
In uncertain times, we remember previous generations of women’s rights champions and learn from their experience how to overcome obstacles in caring for each other when the state fails to do so.
In uncertain times, we embrace technology in creative ways to organize and reach out to those who need us. We develop mobile applications for abortion care, support and guidance, we use social media to amplify and campaign, and we learn about security tools to protect ourselves from oppressive invasions of our privacy.
In uncertain times, as always, we strive to ensure no one is left behind, developing strategies to include the most vulnerable and marginalized communities in our region.
In uncertain times, we support abortion care providers and helplines in providing abortion information and access, including self-managed abortion, and emergency post-abortion care. We share their stories and strengthen our links with their networks. We honor them for their commitment and dedication.
In uncertain times, we commit to being visible! We come together in sisterhood from all corners of the world to learn, to support each other and work together to demand the right to safe abortion.
Each year, we mark 28 September to mobilize our communities and strengthen the global movement for universal access to safe, legal abortion. Join us!!!
Here are some ways to mobilize and raise awareness:
- Share information on where to get bona fide abortion pills and how to use them safely and effectively!
- Organize stigma busting conversations and events!
- Hold festivals, webinars, forums, workshops and cultural events!
- Write to national policy makers, healthcare providers and politicians. Demand safe, legal abortion!
- Utilize social media with relevant hashtags to share your support for abortion access!
- Donate to local abortion funds, abortion support organizations, hotlines, and acompañantes.
28 September Planning Group
International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, UK – Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights, Philippines/Tanzania – Young Activist Network for Abortion Advocacy, India – ASTRA Central & Eastern European Network for SRHR, Poland – Organisation pour le Dialogue pour l’Avortement Sécurisé/Francophone Africa, Côte d’Ivoire – Rights and Access of Women to Safe Abortion, Middle East & North Africa Network, Tunisia/Egypt – Mama Network, Kenya – Women Help Women, Netherlands – International Planned Parenthood Federation, UK – European Safe Abortion Networking Group, Sweden – Consorcio Latinoamericano contra el Aborto Inseguro, Peru – Inroads, US – Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women, Malaysia – Asia Safe Abortion Partnership, India – Central European/Western Asia Regional Network, Moldova – Global Doctors for Choice, US