DECIDES that the IEC develop a policy regarding a woman’s access to abortion services consistent with  States’ obligation to provide legal, safe and accessible health services to all women.

Explanatory note

AI’s current policy statement on abortion (POL 39/004/2007) is an important but incomplete step towards a comprehensive position on women’s sexual and reproductive rights. Where a woman’s access to safe and legal abortion services is restricted, her fundamental human rights may be at grave risk. Abortion services should therefore be legal, safe and accessible to all women free from coercion, discrimination and violence.  A woman’s access to abortion may be subject to reasonable restrictions[1].

Under our current policy, AI is able to act on some human rights violations relating to abortion, especially those linked to our work on violence against women. According to the policy AI would call on states to take all necessary measures to ensure that safe and legal abortion services are available, accessible, acceptable and of good quality for women who require them in cases of unwanted pregnancy as a result of rape, sexual assault or incest, and pregnancy which endangers the life of the woman (including risks of grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the woman).

However, we believe there is a need for a more inclusive approach. Our current policy does not take into account that an unwanted pregnancy may put at risk a woman’s fundamental rights even if she has not been raped or if there is no proof of sexual abuse and if her life is not in direct danger because of the pregnancy. As the Decision 3 of ICM 2005 states: “the need for abortion in a large number of cases is a consequence of … a lack of empowerment of women as well as of a lack of access to education and health services like contraception”. All over the world, women and girls decide to undergo abortion as the only solution to their current situation, whether abortion is legal or not. Worldwide an estimated 70,000 women die as a consequence of unsafe abortion each year. In some countries up to 60% of all maternal deaths are due to unsafe abortions, and in addition, a vast number of women and girls are harmed for life as a result of unsafe abortions. Thus, when a woman is denied the right to make an independent and well-informed decision whether to continue or terminate her pregnancy, a wide range of her human rights are threatened.

Given the high number of maternal deaths that can be attributed to unsafe abortions, AI’s current policy on SRR will not be sufficient in relation to our coming work on maternal mortality and the right to health, included in the global campaign on Human Dignity.

[1] ”Reasonable restrictions” refer to the restrictions mentioned in paragraph 4 and 5 in AI’s current policy statement on abortion (POL 39/004/2007) and include restrictions on gestational limits, some restrictions on sex-selective and disability-selective abortions, and restrictions that apply to the provision of all medical services.

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  1. cp4ab0lishm3nt Says:

    Conservative and religious issues pose a hindrance to the life and safety of the mother and the child. Despite the preservation of life is important, what is life and how life is determined at what stage. The Americans even with their Roe V. Wade have numerous debates as well and Roe V. Wade issues were adopted and reverted on many occassions.
    Religiousity and morality also make issues like pro-choice difficult to adopt as religion opts to preserve life as soon as it is deemed to be ‘alive.’
    Despite all the arguments, debates and policy opinions, women faced the most difficult and dangerous choices like:-
    A. Doing it in an illegal abortion clinic where procedures are primitive and presumptous;
    B. Women would be extorted if they would want an abortion procedure;
    C. The truth is shameful and harmful and a young lady bore it in a public place and have it discarded in the toilet, thrash bin or just left the newborn in a public area.
    D. The baby may not survive and perhaps another criminal offence may be against the mother
    E. The abandoned child may face injustice (perhaps in life) at an orphanage or foster care.
    Opinions aside, what is needed at hand is for society to sit down and understand what is more important for the determination of a young women.

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