International Safe Abortion Day began in 1990 in Argentina and became an internationally recognized event in 2011. The Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights was central in declaring September 28 Safe Abortion Day on a global level. On this day, women’s organizations around the world unite towards the common goal of achieving abortion access worldwide.
The key components of International Safe Abortion Day include advocating for the decriminalization of abortion, reducing the negative stigma surrounding abortions, and ensuring equal access to safe abortions for all individuals. According to a statement from the United Nations regarding International Safe Abortion Day, “Denying women access to necessary health care is inherently discriminatory and a violation of their human rights.”
In the absence of safe abortion access, many individuals seek out alternative methods of abortion. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 25 million individuals attempted to induce abortions without access to save procedures between the years 2010 and 2014. It’s estimated that over 50,000 women a year die from unsafe abortions around the globe. Up to 13% of deaths relating to pregnancy are a result of unsafe abortion practices, making it one of the leading causes of maternal death in the world.
On President Trump’s second day in office, he reinstated and expanded the Global Gag Rule, a deadly U.S. policy that forbids international nongovernmental organizations (NGO) receiving U.S. global health funding from providing counseling, advocating or even referencing abortion, even if these activities are done with non-U.S. funds. Marie Stopes estimates that Trump’s Global Gag will lead to the deaths of more than 21,000 additional women over the next three years.
The Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act has been introduced in Congress and would permanently revoke the Global Gag Rule. But the United States Congress currently has different priorities concerning legislation regulating abortion access.
Next week the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to hold a vote on a 20 week abortion ban, criminalizing the procedure after 20 weeks and subjecting anyone found to have violated the law to a fine and up to five years in prison. 24 states have restrictions on late-term abortions and 17 states have banned abortions after 20-weeks. Between 2011 and now, some 369 abortion restrictions have been passed by state legislatures, twice as many as the previous decade.
A poll recently released by the Center for Reproductive Rights shows that 61 percent of adults in the United States support the federal government passing legislation to protect women’s access to abortion and prevent state’s from passing laws meant to restrict access. In addition, the poll found that 69 percent of adults want Roe v. Wade to remain the law of the land and 66 percent support a woman having access to abortion care in her own community.
Media Sources: Feminist Majority Foundation 9/27/17, 3/9/17, 9/27/17, Egypt Today 9/28/17, Guttmacher Institute 5/19/16, United Nations Human Rights 9/28/17, International Women’s Health Coalition 9/15/17