Bangladesh

Minaskhi lives in a remote area of Bangladesh with her husband and two-year-old child. She was not prepared for another child when she became pregnant again, so she sought her neighbor’s advice on how to terminate the pregnancy. The neighbor took Minaskhi to a traditional birth attendant who inserted an herbal tree root into her uterus; this caused immense pain with heavy bleeding and Minaskhi felt very ill. As her condition deteriorated, another friend advised her husband to take her to the local health center. When Minaskhi arrived at the health center, doctors treated her complications from the unsafe abortion she had endured. Luckily, Minaskhi’s life was saved thanks to timely and high-quality postabortion care services. But she wouldn’t have risked her life in the first place if she had known about the legal “menstrual regulation” services also available at her health center.

Abortion is only legal in Bangladesh to save a woman’s life. Yet a procedure the government terms "menstrual regulation"—which involves vacuum aspiration to bring on menstruation and thereby establish non-pregnancy—is legal in the first trimester. Despite this legal service, unsafe abortion does occur, particularly in rural parts of the country where many women are married before the legal minimum age of 18 jand lack sufficient information on reproductive health and how to access services. For this reason, Ipas established a program in Bangladesh in 2011 to support efforts to reduce maternal mortality from unintended pregnancy. The program strives to strengthen postabortion care and menstrual regulation services and advocate for policy changes that will expand women’s access to services. Though the program is new, Ipas has been supporting Bangladesh since the 1990s to distribute manual vacuum aspiration instruments.