WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION – Access to knowledge and the Global Abortion Policies Database

by Joanna N Erdman, Brooke Ronald Johnson Jr

International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics 2018:1-5.   DOI: 10.1002/ijgo.12509 (Open access)


Research shows that women, healthcare providers, and even policy makers worldwide have limited or inaccurate knowledge of the abortion law and policies in their country. These knowledge gaps sometimes stem from the vague and broad terms of the law, which breed uncertainty and even conflict when unaccompanied by accessible regulation or guidelines. Inconsistency across national law and policy further impedes safe and evidence-based practice. This lack of transparency creates a crisis of accountability. Those seeking care cannot know their legal entitlements, service providers cannot practice with legal protection, and governments can escape legal responsibility for the adverse effects of their laws. This is the context for the newly launched Global Abortion Policies Database – an open- access repository that seeks to promote transparency and state accountability by providing clear and comprehensive information about national laws, policies, health standards, and guidelines, and by creating the capacity for comparative analysis and cross-referencing to health indicators, WHO recommendations, and human rights standards.