Why Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides safe abortion care and what that involves

by Catrin Schulte-Hillen, Nelly Staderini, Jean-François Saint-SauveurConflict and Health 2016 10:19 DOI: 10.1186/s13031-016-0086-5AbstractMédecins Sans Frontières (MSF) responds to needs for the termination of pregnancy, including on request; it is part of the organization’s work aimed at reducing maternal mortality and suffering, and preventing unsafe abortions in the countries where we work. Following the publication of “Why don’t humanitarian organizations provide safe abortion care?” we offer an insight into MSF’s experience over the past few years. The article looks at the legal concerns and proposes that the importance of addressing maternal mortality should replace them and the operational set-up and action organized in a way that mitigates risks. MSF took a policy decision on safe abortion care in 2004; the fact that care did not expand rapidly to relevant MSF projects came as a surprise, reflecting the important weight social norms around abortion have everywhere. The need to engage in an open dialogue with staff, relevant medical actors and at community level became more obvious. Finally the article looks at some key lessons that have emerged for the organization as part of the effort to prevent ill health, maternal death and suffering caused by unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion.PHOTO