The ability to plan when and whether to have children is a fundamental human right. For women and girls, this right is inherently intertwined with a woman’s access to education, to economic participation and to the health and wellbeing for themselves and their families.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call on nations to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including preventing unsafe abortion, in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action. The 2018 Guttmacher-Lancet Commission on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights further emphasizes bodily integrity and self-determination in addition to access to health information and services, including contraception and safe abortion care.
And yet, each year 44 percent of pregnancies are unintended and more than half (56 million) of these end in abortion, 25 million of which will be unsafe, leading to the deaths of nearly 23,000 women. Experts recommend a greater investment in reproductive health services, including family planning and safe abortion care, to help ensure that women have access to the information and care they need to have the pregnancies they want.
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Women from low-income communities are disproportionately affected by limited access to health services, including family planning or abortion care. ICRW seeks to better understand these barriers, which may be cultural, geographic or economic. We collaborate with partners around the world to identify approaches to increasing investment in reproductive health care, improving access to safe abortion and reducing abortion stigma.
For more than 40 years, ICRW has been committed to research and programs that address the root causes of unsafe abortion. We have studied the barriers and motivators that shape women’s access to reproductive health care. We have assessed innovative programs designed to facilitate access to this care. And, because abortion is not solely a women’s issue, we are studying men’s attitudes towards abortion. We will continue to build on this foundation to help policymakers and program implementers better meet women’s needs for effective, respectful and essential health care.
“Women can not fully enjoy their human rights if they are not able to choose whether, when and with whom to have children.”