International Safe Abortion Day

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This blog post was written by Justine McGahan, Intern at the Communications Department at the RWI HQ in Lund. 

In June 2022, a wave of shock rippled throughout the world as the US Supreme Court announced the reversing of landmark judgement Roe v Wade, removing the right to abortion from the US Constitution. The US is however not the only state where abortion rights are being challenged, Poland and Hungary have restricted access to the right, and in many states’ abortion remains criminalised. The recent demonstrations and debates on the right to abortion, are a reminder of the long road ahead to the guaranteeing universal reproductive health and rights and the importance of continued advocacy, notably on this International Safe Abortion Day (September 28th 2022).  

September 28th was first celebrated as a day for decriminalisation of abortion in Latin America and the Caribbeans in the 1990s. The event became global in 2011 with the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights declaring it an international day for advocacy and in 2015 September 28th was officially named International Safe Abortion Day.  

In the current context, where abortion rights being challenged all around the world, this September 28th, 2022 – International Safe Abortion Day – is more important than ever.  

If women and their right to bodily autonomy is often ‘instrumentalised to serve fundamentalist ideologies and populist agendas’, these agendas fail to consider, or to mention, the cost of these policies on women. Restrictions or bans on abortion access only result in increasing unsafe abortions, which present a very high risk of harm or even death for women. Indeed, the World Health Organisation estimates that failure to provide safe abortion leads, each year, to between 14.000 and 39.000 maternal deaths worldwide.   

Furthermore, it mustn’t be forgotten that abortion is not only a health issue but also a rights issue. In the context of the current setbacks, UN experts issued a statement reminding that guaranteeing reproductive rights was a key step towards the achievement of UN Sustainable Goal 5 on gender equality and health and well-being. 

‘Human rights law stipulates that women must be free to decide when to be pregnant, how many children to have, and how to space pregnancies. The full enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health rights is indispensable to women’s and girls’ ability to exercise all other human rights and for the achievement of gender equality. Laws and policies that deny women and girls their sexual and reproductive health rights are inherently discriminatory’.  

As the world stands on this 28th September 2022, we are all reminded of the importance of celebrating International Safe Abortion Day. In these times of uncertainty, the only certainty is that more can, and should be done, to safeguard reproductive health and the right of women to bodily autonomy. 

Featured image: @gmalhotra

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