Standards and Guidelines

Virtually all countries permit abortion to save a woman's life and many have multiple legal indications for abortion. But without standards and guidelines and other documents that provide guidance on how to translate those laws into practical service delivery, women may not get the care they need and are entitled to by law. Standards spell out the underlying principles and essential requirements for providing equitable access to, and adequate quality of, health services. Guidelines are evidence-based recommendations for health-care delivery. Other types of guidance documents include clinical protocols, training curricula and service delivery and strategy documents.

Governments ultimately decide the laws and policies of their countries, but there often are opportunities for civil-society and non-governmental organizations, health-care experts and others to provide information and technical inputs. Over the years, Ipas has worked with ministries of health and other partners in more than 20 countries to produce abortion-related standards and guidelines and other guidance documents and continues to provide technical assistance in these and other countries on an ongoing basis. In Nepal, for example, Ipas worked in partnership with representatives from the government and civil-society and non-governmental organizations to develop comprehensive standards and guidelines that have made safe abortion care widely accessible.

Ipas Resources and Tools

Drawing on this extensive experience, Ipas has developed several resources and tools with respect to abortion-related guidance documents:

The Ipas Abortion Guidance Documents Archive is a searchable collection of government-issued documents on abortion service delivery and care. It includes documents from more than 50 countries and is regularly updated. Entries for each document note the title, the year developed, whether it has been officially adopted and the type of guidance provided. More information on the archive or requests for specific documents can be obtained by emailing library@ipas.org.

Download a list of all documents contained in the archive - and a separate list highlighting documents where Ipas specifically contributed technical assistance.

The Ipas Standards and Guidelines Toolkit will be available soon in a new, updated edition. The toolkit includes guidance, tools, training activities and sample documents to aid in the development and review of national clinical standards and guidelines. It also provides best practices for the development and review process and recommended, evidence-based content in line with the latest WHO recommendations. Contact Ipas's Health Systems unit for more information.

Additional Resources

Abortion Laws of the World is a website providing links to abortion laws in dozens of countries.