International Federation of Gynecology & Obstetrics – 28 September resources webpage
Lack of access to safe abortion results in 45% of all abortions globally being unsafe. Unsafe abortion remains a catastrophic public health problem accounting for up to 13% of maternal mortality worldwide, or around 47,000 deaths, with hundreds of thousands of survivors living with long-term complications, including infertility and chronic pain. Of these unsafe abortions, 97% take place in South-Central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America… National societies of obstetrics and gynaecology are in a unique position to be national sexual and reproductive health and rights advocates due to being respected for their technical expertise and close relationships with other partners including the Ministry of Health. FIGO’s International Safe Abortion Day webpage provides access to FIGO’s resources promoting 28 September activities, including webinar recordings in English/French/Spanish, speakers’ presentations, infographics, links to relevant websites, updates on FIGO’s members’ activities, and FIGO’s endorsement of Amnesty International’s abortion policy.
Photo with stakeholders, including the Vice-President and other representatives of CNGOB, the Network Lead, the President of the Association des Sages-Femmes du Bénin (ASFB), the representative of the Association des Femmes Jurists of Benin (AFJB), with the presence of PSI, WiLDAF Benin, ABPF, NGO GBEWA, IPAS, MAJ (Mouvement d’Action des Jeunes), MS4C (Medical Students for Choice) and ILEWA. September 28, 2020, at the headquarters of the College in Cotonou.
SheDecides Malawi held a closed session with faith leaders to discuss the Termination of Pregnancy Bill which will be tabled in Parliament next year in February. They also held a youth conference to discuss the Bill and at the end of the day, young people read a statement in support of the Bill but also criticised its limitations, such as when and why a woman can legally get an abortion.
SheDecides India took part in two global webinars – a session at the 10th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive, Sexual Health & Rights and Marie Stopes’ International Safe Abortion Day Briefing. They also hosted an art campaign and showcased how artists can stand up and speak out on why abortion matters! Check out all the other art on their Facebook page.
In a webinar, SheDecides Senegal discussed how to reduce unsafe abortion among young people and how to ensure young people have access to safe abortion services. They also took part in a Twitter chat in partnership with safe2choose France.
SheDecides Nigeria’s launch event took place on International Safe Abortion Day itself. It included a vibrant roundtable and an Open Mic where activists shared their experiences, achievements and challenges about reproductive rights and needs in the country. The day was attended by government officials, civil society organizations, UN representatives, the Deputy Head of Missions of the Embassy of Sweden who spoke about Swedish feminist policy, Amnesty International Nigeria, and inspiring sexual and reproductive health and rights activists.
SheDecides Philippines hosted an Open House entitled “Telling Truer Stories III”. The fun-filled event included live readings and artistic renderings of three real abortion stories. As activists discussed her right to decide, artists translated the stories being told into narrative artwork.
SheDecides Nepal held an ArtsForAbortionRights Open House on Wednesday 30 September. The vibrant event was captured by artist Sharad Raut Kshetri. The Open House included interactive discussions about abortion rights in Nepal and live musical performances. The event created a safe space for young people to share knowledge and experiences on access to abortion.
SheDecides Bangladesh announced the winners of its ArtsForAbortionRights competition here!
INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR WOMEN’S RIGHT TO SAFE ABORTION
Global Twitter action leading up to 28 September
In the run-up to 28th September, the International Campaign for Safe Abortion launched a two-week ‘@ Your Government’ twitter action. We invited our followers to tag the minister or government department responsible for abortion policy in tweets demanding free, safe, legal and accessible abortion services. The idea was to flood Twitter with localised calls for safe abortion access, decriminalisation and clear legislation on telemedicine and self-managed abortion. We had a great response and the conversation continues – follow #IManageMyAbortion to join in!
Young Activist Network for Abortion Advocacy (YANAA) & Safe Abortion Advocacy Initiative: A Global South Engagement (SAIGE)
Very few people talk openly about their experience and the reality of abortion. This is a series of young people’s stories and their varied experiences of abortion for 28 September, shared by the Safe Abortion Advocacy Initiative: Global South Engagement (SAIGE) and the Young Activist Network for Abortion Advocacy (YANAA) of the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion. The stories can be found on YANAA’s Instagram and SAIGE’s Instagram.
#COVID19 should not be an excuse to further curtail women’s access to safe and legal abortion. On #SafeAbortionDay, #WGDAW experts call on States to ensure that sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion, are considered essential health services.
WORKING GROUP ON DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS/ TWO SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS/AN INDEPENDENT EXPERT
Statement: “States must ensure access to contraceptives even during Covid-19 pandemic”, UN experts say
“…Choice and access to family planning are central to individual reproductive autonomy and for attaining the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals on gender equality and health and well-being – particularly those aimed at ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health rights and reducing maternal mortality. If we want to avoid maternal deaths, it is essential to prevent unwanted pregnancies through access to contraception, safe abortion services, and quality post-abortion care. Ahead of the International Safe Abortion Day on 28 September, last year’s statement by Special Procedures Mandates Holders stands ever valid.
“On World Contraception Day (26 September) and International Safe Abortion Day (28 September), we call on States to perform their important role to ensure increased access to quality modern methods of family planning, stigma-free services and evidence-based information. This is part of their obligations under the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”
From their statement for World Contraception Day by: Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; members of the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls: Elizabeth Broderick (Chair), Melissa Upreti (Vice Chair), Alda Facio, Ivana Radačić, and Meskerem Geset Techane; Dubravka Simonovic, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, and Victor Madrigal-Borloz, Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
The Women Living with HIV group and the Coalition for Wanted Births, in partnership with the Safe Abortion Action Fund and Amplify Change celebrated 26 & 28 September in South Kivu, with the theme of “Wanted births: a right for all”, including awareness-raising sessions with 240 sex workers on contraception and self-managed safe abortion in the context of Covid-19, a public march on 28 Sept, and a discussion forum with local government and community leaders on the theme: “The Maputo Protocol in the context of Covid-19: Provide access to safe, self-managed contraception and abortion”.
FRANCOPHONE WEST AFRICA
Twitter Chat, by She Decides, safe2choose.org
African Girls’ Empowerment (AGE) Network
As part of our efforts to raise awareness and advance the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls, particularly on safe abortion as a woman’s human right in Nigeria, the AGE Network – with over 4,000 followers on Facebook – launched a series of social media campaigns on safe abortion to commemorate International Safe Abortion Day 2020. Thanks to the support of the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, who provided us with a toolkit and key messages for the campaign, each day, starting from 16 September, we designed and posted a flyer with a key message, tagging the Nigerian government and the federal Ministry of Health, calling for abortion law reform in Nigeria. On 26 September, we held a live chat on Facebook with a key stakeholder – a medical practitioner at a Federal Government healthcare centre in Yola. We reached 659 people, with the active engagement of 75 people. AGE Network on Facebook, 10 Sept 2020
Reform abortion laws to end unsafe abortion in Nigeria, AGE Network tells the Nigerian Government
As part of its effort to end unsafe abortion and advance the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young women and girls, AGE (African Girls Empowerment Network) on 28 September 2020 launched a series of online campaigns to commemorate International Safe Abortion Day 2020.
Speaking on 26 September 2020, during the Facebook Live Chat on #Ending unsafe abortion among women and girls, particularly at vulnerable and displacement settings during and after the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the group also decried women’s lack of access to modern methods of contraception. See the Facebook announcement of the Live Chat.
“Today, 26 September 2020 is World Contraception Day 2020 and millions of women and adolescent girls at the displaced and vulnerable settings and hard to reach communities in Nigeria still do not have access to quality family and life planning services or modern methods of contraception. The implications of this are an increase in unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion, as well as a high maternal mortality rate, among others.
Coming up on 28 September this month is International Safe Abortion Day 2020. This year the theme is: “Telemedicine, self-managed abortion and access to abortion in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. #IManageMyAbortion”
“As we approach #InternationalSafeAbortionDay2020, we are also calling on the Governments and relevant stakeholders to set aside laws and policies restricting access to #SafeAbortion and allow the use of telemedicine and self-managed abortion in line with WHO guidance.”
Our Special Guest during the Facebook Live Chat was Dr Daniel Onaolapo, Medical Officer at the Federal Medical Centre Yola, who highlighted the impact of abortion laws on women in developing countries, including Nigeria. He talked about the fact that about 97% of all unsafe abortions globally between 2010 and 2014 occurred in low income countries, with Africa as the focus.
He called on civil society actors and the Government to take action. “Civil society has a big role to play in this, he said. First, by educating the populace, male and female equally, about safe sexual practices, unsafe abortion and the risks involved. Second, by encouraging the government to incorporate sex education in the school curriculum, right from primary school. Third, by considering whether to amend the current abortion laws as deemed fit.”
He was asked what are the appropriate measures that can be taken to reduce the stigmatization of abortion in politics, religion and other aspects of society? Dr Daniel replied: “Very important question, moderator. Despite the strict laws in Nigeria, there’s a need to reduce the stigma. And there are various ways that can be done. 1. Provision of counselling services, which should be client-centred and judgement free. 2. Parental education is also crucial so as to pass the knowledge to their offspring. 3. Our religious centres should incorporate this into their teachings as well. I believe with these and more, stigmatization will reduce significantly.”
The London School of Economics, PositiveNegatives and Ipas are pleased to share the results of our collaborative research project: “Improving adolescent access to contraception and abortion-related care” through the animated stories of adolescent girls in Malawi and Zambia. Using information from over 100 interviews conducted in each country, these animations aim to engage adolescents about abortion and contraception, using their own narratives.
Ministry of Health and NGOs celebrate 28 September
On 28 September, the NGO Health Development Initiative (HDI) partnered with the Ministry of Health and other NGOs, including the Rwanda NGO Forum on HIV/AIDs and Health Promotion, Ihorere Munyarwanda, and Great Lakes Initiative for Human Rights and Development, to celebrate International Safe Abortion Day. The celebrations were held at Kibagabaga Hospital. The Director of Clinical Services at the Ministry of Health, Edward Kamuhangire, noted that the Ministry has provided trainings and equipment to different hospitals so that those who are legally allowed to have an abortion can have a safe procedure, performed by medical personnel. Dr Aflodis Kagaba, director of HDI, noted that it would not have been possible to hold such a meeting in a public hospital ten years ago. He emphasised the importance of all healthcare providers and support staff, such as social workers and counsellors, being aware and ready to offer information and services on safe abortion. Other main messages for the day centred on preventing unwanted pregnancies and encouraging women and young women to make use of safe abortion services. From: New Times, by Joan Mbabazi, 30 September 2020.
Rwanda Health Initiative for Youth and Women (RHIYW), Rwanda NGO Forum and others
This year for International Safe Abortion Day, the theme for Rwanda was “The role of CSOs in prevention of unsafe abortion among women and girls”. Rwanda has made tremendous efforts in improving the health of women and girls by reforming restrictive laws on access to safe abortion and improving access to post-abortion care and safe abortion services. Girls and women seeking services face barriers to access services, however – stigma, discrimination, and lack of information – which cause a certain number of women to resort to unsafe abortion. RHIYW worked with a range of NGOs to organise different activities addressing some of those barriers at community level and with youth. As a pre-activity, RHIYW, in collaboration with the Rwanda NGO Forum, organised an event at the Musanze Youth Centre. Young people and representatives from the district authorities and the Vice Mayor in charge of social affairs were present.
On 29 September, the “prevention of teenage pregnancy” was the topic discussed at Radio Rwanda Broadcasting Agency. The panellists were the Vice Mayor in Charge of Social Affairs, the In Charge of Good Governance and a RHIYW representative. They highlighted the role of parents and parental influence and what parents should do – communicate with their children about sex, love and relationships; encourage their children to take school seriously and set high expectations for themselves; and monitor and control what their children are watching, reading and listening to.
Safe2choose was live on Instagram with Khanyisa Booi talking about MVA (manual vacuum aspiration). They were also on Twitter, where they partnered with Mandikudza Tembo @BleedRead and Global Health Strategies in a Twitter Chat. Join the conversation on #Imanagemyabortion #28Sept
Center for Health, Human Rights and Development & Coalition to Stop Maternal Mortality due to Unsafe Abortions VIDEO: e-Candlelight Vigil in memory of women who have died due to
unsafe abortion during Covid-19, 25 Sept 2020
+ NTV Live Dialogue: Lived Realities of Women During Covid-19, 29 Sept 2020
+ Why Women Die, Daily Monitor article, 28 Sept 2020
We called for increased support for women and girls in need of abortion services
TURGET-Uganda is a non-governmental organization which aims at improving the reproductive health rights of young people below the age of 25 years and women in partnership with men in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For 28 September 2020, we raised policy issues, held discussions (through webinars, meetings, and research findings), and participated in social media activity. Our work was aimed at youth, civil society, legal practitioners, providers, and politicians/civil servants. Our aim is to save women’s and girls’ lives through reduction of abortion stigma and reduction of unsafe abortions during the Covid-19 crisis. We called for increased support for women and girls in need of abortion services.
ASIA + PACIFIC
ASIA SAFE ABORTION PARTNERSHIP
Youth Champions’ posters
Celebrated across the world by reproductive and abortion rights activists, the theme for this year’s International Safe Abortion Day was to amplify the growing need of self-managed abortions, especially in the context of Covid-19 and circumstances surrounding the worldwide lockdown in 2020. As in previous years, speaking truth to power were our Youth Champions from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal and Vietnam, demanding the right to make decisions for their own bodies. Here are three of them; see the others at ASAP Instagram.
ASIA SAFE ABORTION PARTNERSHIP
Patriarchy 1010, with Nandini Mazumder, Manishe Gupta & Rola Yasmine
International Safe Abortion Day 2020 Japan Project:
The International Safe Abortion Day 2020 Japan Project is an umbrella organization made up of feminist activists, doctors, midwives and researchers on abortion issues all over Japan. We had our online event on September 27th from 1 pm to 7 pm, with an audience of 150-200 people watching on-site on YouTube. It featured 11 shows, including talks on abortion by women of varying ages and experiences, mini-lectures on laws on abortion, medical care, media images, sex education, as well as a review of Japanese women’s movement seeking for reproductive freedom. We also shared video and text messages from Women on Waves, Women Help Women, SHARE, and International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, and announced the Japanese translation of Marge Berer’s paper “Telemedicine and self-managed abortion”, which is now available on our webpage.
At the finale, we issued a statement that we would carry on our activities for safer contraception and safer abortion, and for a repeal of Chapter 29 on the Crime of Abortion in the Japanese Penal Code. After the event, our audience has continued to grow. We have had over 2,000 viewers during the following three days. About 300 individuals and 50 groups have come forward to be our supporters as well. For further information, visit our webpage, Facebook and Twitter.
On September 26th, ARROW and SAIGE hosted a Film Screening & Panel Discussion addressing the stigma of abortion along with FYIKL (For Youth Initiative KL) of Malaysia. The event was livestreamed on Facebook. Watch a recording here.
Joint Action for Reproductive Justice & Center for Sexual Rights & Reproductive Justice
On 28 September, Joint Action for Reproductive Justice and SHARE (Center for Sexual Rights and Reproductive Justice) held an action (photo) and a press conference to urge the government to totally repeal the abortion law. We shared the four videos below as well. In April 2019, the South Korean Constitutional Court ruled the abortion law was unconstitutional and gave lawmakers until 31 December 2020 to revise it. We are urging the government to fully decriminalise abortion and make new laws and policies to ensure sexual and reproductive health and rights. We will keep fighting for our demands until we achieve them. [Note: On 8 October, one unconfirmed media source said the government has just proposed to allow abortion broadly up to 14 weeks, from 14 to 24 weeks with narrow conditions, and after 24 weeks very restrictively, retaining penal clauses in the Criminal Code.]
On 19 September 1000 people joined a rally against the March for Life (sic). Many new alliances have formed, all calling for the deletion of paragraph 218, that criminalises abortion, from the Penal Code. There were 100 supporting organisations this year and actions in about 50 cities. A preview of the award-winning film “Never Rare Sometimes Always” (USA/GB 2020) was shown in many cities. Information on the events in dozens of cities and towns in Germany, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and film events, can be found here: https://safeabortionday.noblogs.org/mitmachen/aktionen-2020/.
Away with Clause 218: free, safe, legal!!!
Abortion Access Campaign West @AAC_West
Abortion Access Campaign West (AAC West) is a women’s collective based in Galway to ensure that those who need abortion care receive it in a respectful and caring environment that meets their needs. AAC West is particularly concerned about securing abortion services for marginalised groups and is in regular contact with GPs in the west of Ireland on how abortion services are being implemented.
For 28 September, we contacted policymakers in nine countries through social media regarding the need to ensure access to safe abortion, treated as essential healthcare, and calling for barriers/restrictions on safe and legal abortion to be removed in their countries. Petitions were shared where available to back up these demands. We also attended webinars on equitable access to abortion care globally, and necessary abortion arrangements in the time of Covid-19.
Although abortion has been legal for 35 years in Spain, women in the region of Castilla y León face geographical discrimination due to lack of access to abortion care in the public hospitals and the lack of private clinics. Most women have to travel to other regions to get an abortion, including during the Covid-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, the Salamanca Feminist Movement requested anonymous testimonies through social networks and called a conference in February 2020 to discuss their findings. They discovered that most health professionals did not object to providing abortions but simply believed abortion was not carried out in their hospitals. The group called for the right to have an abortion in the local region and for medical students, doctors, nurses and midwives to be trained to to provide this service. For 28 September, they presented a letter addressed to the Procurador del Común (Attorney General), the Patient Ombudsman and the Provincial Director of the Regional Health Management. This is the second time they have submitted a letter of this type to denounce the situation.
SOURCE: Elsaltodiario.com, by Salamanca Feminist Movement, 28 September 2020 ; PHOTO by Claudia Campos Suárez
Campaña Nacional por el Derecho al Aborto Legal, Seguro y Gratuito 28S Videos: Es urgente, es prioridad: Aborto Legal 2020.
No more deaths, nor prison, nor torture – nor unsafe abortions.
To celebrate 15 years (2005-2020) of the National Campaign, the Mendoza Regional group made a series of “spots” that they published on their networks to demystify and continue to demand legal abortion now!
Cycle of debates on sexual and reproductive rights
September 28th is the Day of the Struggle for the Decriminalization and Legalization of Abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean. In celebration of the day, the Rio de Janeiro State Magistrates School, through its Gender, Race and Ethnicity Research Group (NUPEGRE) promoted a cycle of debates on sexual and reproductive rights. The event, which took place on September 22nd, included presentations by Jacqueline Pitanguy (CEPIA) on “The architecture of reproductive rights: construction and dismantling” with a historical overview of Brazilian women’s struggle for the recognition of sexual and reproductive rights as human rights. She alerted listeners to the risk of destruction of this architecture, which was built in the 1970s, 80s and 90s in Brazil. Dr Thomaz Gollop, Professor of Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine, Jundiaí, presented “Reflections on the ordinances of the Ministry of Health and decisions about violence”. And Ana Teresa Derraik Barbosa, an obstetrician-gynaecologist in Rio de Janeiro, spoke on “Reproductive rights and the health unit: when the law is a law, but it is not in fact!”
SOURCE: CEPIA (Cidadania, Estudo, Pesquisa, Informação e Ação) Newsletter #09, September 2020
Twitter Chat, by IYAFA, She Decides, Milhas Pela Vida das Mulheres, safe2choose.org
Abortion rights activists clash with police in Mexico City and Tijuana
In Mexico City, on September 28, hundreds of women were mobilized in the street to claim their right to dispose of their bodies, on the international day of the right to abortion. The response of Claudia Sheinbaum’s government to these protests has been a deployment of 1,750 police officers, and violent repression.
In the early afternoon, police trapped a small group of women for five hours, teargassing them and beating them with their shields. Several demonstrators were injured, some suffered bone fractures while others could not breathe. At least 13 women were injured, including Flora Aco, an activist in Pan y Rosas and leader of the Socialist Workers’ Movement. Some of the women protestors were carrying hammers; some reportedly threw Molotov cocktails, paint and bottles at the police, many of whom were also women. At least one officer was briefly engulfed in flames after being hit by a Molotov cocktail, before colleagues doused the fire with an extinguisher, television images showed. The government said nearly a dozen police were injured.
Harassed also by violent anti-abortion activists, the demonstrators continued to express their anger and to claim the right to legal, safe abortion, accessible to all. They also denounced the police violence and demanded the immediate withdrawal of the police.
Demonstration for ‘maternidad deseado’ (desired motherhood) in Mexico
Several groups in the Mexican city of Tijuana pledged to demonstrate on 28 September for access to safe, free and legal abortions and shed light on the need for the right to an abortion. “Our sexual and reproductive rights can’t wait anymore, and we demand legal abortions in all of Mexico immediately,” one woman said. “We demand that legislators who are in favor of our reproductive rights speak up and be seen to do their jobs and legalize our rights as women.”
The groups Safe Abortion Tijuana Net, Violet Force, and The Confidants said they would participate in the activities that would coincide with similar events in other countries and in other cities throughout Mexico.
The theme of the march in Tijuana was “Maternity must be desired or it won’t happen,” emphasising a woman’s decision whether to procreate and the elimination of initiatives at the local and federal level to penalise abortion. Eight women were detained by police, who are described as being aggressive, calling the women ‘femi-nazis’ and hitting them and humiliating them during the events.
It is only in Mexico City and Oaxaca that abortions within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are legal.
RAWSA (Right & Access for Women to Safe Abortion)/ Groupe Tawhida Ben Cheikh
RAWSA, the network for safe abortion in the MENA region, in collaboration with Groupe Tawhida Ben Cheikh, Tunisia, conducted two webinars in Arabic, French and English on the role of media for advocacy, the importance of developing relevant messages, and being aware of stigmatising images and words when discussing safe abortion and sexual and reproductive health, especially in the Arab world region. A second action on 28 September was a press release regarding the terrible violence in the horrible rape and murder of a young women in Tunis a few days before, in Arabic and French.