In settings where abortion is legally restricted or access to services is limited, women with unwanted pregnancies often resort to unsafe abortions and subsequently require urgent medical attention to treat complications. Women may also suffer incomplete spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) or complications from a safe abortion that require medical attention.
Postabortion care, a term originated by Ipas in the early 1990s, is an approach for reducing deaths and injuries from incomplete and unsafe abortions and their related complications. Postabortion care is an integral component of comprehensive abortion care and includes five essential elements:
- Treatment of incomplete and unsafe abortion and complications
- Counseling to identify and respond to women’s emotional and physical health needs
- Contraceptive and family-planning services to help women prevent future unwanted pregnancies and abortions
- Reproductive and other health services that are preferably provided on-site or via referrals to other accessible facilities
- Community and service-provider partnerships to prevent unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions, to mobilize resources to ensure timely care for abortion complications, and to make sure health services meet community expectations and needs.