(Montreal, 25/09/17) To highlight World Contraception Day (September 26) and International Safe Abortion Day (September 28), Doctors of the World reaffirms its commitment to the rights of women and girls to freely decide on their sexuality, their health and their lives.
Today, 214 million women who want to avoid or postpone pregnancy in developing countries still do not have access to family planning services. The number of unwanted pregnancies is estimated at 80 million per year and 22 million women and girls are at risk of having unsafe abortions. Access to safe abortions is impossible as it is penalized or socially condemned in more than 100 countries, forcing women to resort to unsafe procedures. Complications related to clandestine abortions are among the leading causes of maternal mortality, causing 50,000 deaths per year. About 40% of women who experience complications will not receive care. Deaths related to clandestine abortions occur mostly in developing countries, particularly in Africa, where the rate is highest.
Doctors of the World believes that poor access to sexual and reproductive healthcare is an issue in need of immediate action. So, we take action in Haiti, Colombia, Ukraine and Iraq, in areas of violence and crisis. There, we partner with civil society organizations and local health authorities to reduce maternal mortality and change policies and practices that hinder a woman’s right to choose. However, the laws that restrict or criminalize the voluntary termination of pregnancy push women to abort by their own means. “Legal barriers do not deter women from seeking unsafe abortions. On the contrary, according to the World Health Organization, countries restricting this right have higher abortion rates,” says Dr. Nicolas Bergeron, President of Doctors of the World Canada.
Canada has made a strong commitment to respecting the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls by adopting a Feminist International Assistance Policy that addresses the challenges within our health programs. This vision can become a reality with concrete and coherent strategies, and the necessary resources to make it happen. Making real social change is possible and it would allow millions of women to decide on their sexuality, their health and their lives.
Contact: Nadja Pollaert