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Focus on Nepal: The Harmful Impact of the Helms Amendment on People Seeking Abortion Care

The Helms amendment is a law barring U.S. foreign assistance from being used for abortion services. This fact sheet describes the negative impact of the Helms amendment in Nepal. The country liberalized its abortion law in 2002 and the right to safe motherhood and reproductive health was guaranteed by the 2015 Constitution. In 2018 the Right to Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health Act further ensured that women and girls in Nepal have the right to access safe, legal abortion free of charge at public health facilities. Yet due in great part to U.S. funding restrictions like the Helms Amendment, Nepal’s reproductive health care provision is fragmented and needlessly inefficient, putting the most burden on women and girls seeking abortion care.

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Roots of Change: A step-by-step advocacy guide for expanding access to safe abortion

This guide is intended for advocates interested in supporting expanded access to safe abortion care in their countries. It will help you and your colleagues develop a strategy that considers the unique considerations for abortion-related advocacy. It is intended that you will work through the guide with a small group of stakeholders who are committed to working together on expanded access to safe abortion care.

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When abortion is a crime

This two-page fact sheet is adapted from a 2013 Ipas report investigating the impact of criminal abortion laws on women, their families and health-care providers in three South American countries—Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina. 

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When abortion is a crime: Rwanda.

Rwanda reformed its abortion law in 2012, but legal barriers and cultural and religious stigma make it nearly impossible for women to get a safe, legal abortion. Women with unplanned or unwanted pregnancies resort to unsafe and illegal abortions—and Rwandan police unjustly harass, arrest, prosecute and imprison hundreds of women and girls on abortion or infanticide-related charges each year. This report, by Ipas and Great Lakes Initiative for Human Rights and Development, shares findings from interviews with women, judges, legal defense lawyers, and police officers, and calls on the Rwandan government to take steps to address this ongoing human rights violation.

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The impact on young women when abortion is a crime

This fact sheet highlights the disproportionately high impact of criminal abortion laws on young women. In places where abortion is a crime, women who are young, poor, uneducated and facing an unwanted pregnancy are at greater risk of resorting to illegal and unsafe abortions, and consequently being investigated, arrested and prosecuted.

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Making change happen: A review of progressive abortion policy change in Africa

An overview of progressive abortion policy changes and trends in Africa, primarily between 2010-2016. It outlines strategies in regional policy work by Ipas and partners and points to examples of positive policy change, such as national law reform, updated standards and guidelines, commitments by policymakers, and the integration of safe abortion into regional strategies and actions plans on sexual and reproductive health and rights.

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A practical guide for partnering with police to improve abortion access

This guide is a resource for advocates, trainers, project managers and technical advisors who design programs and workshops to engage police on abortion issues. Drawing on the work of Ipas and other organizations, it offers practical strategies for partnering with police to address stigmatized issues and promote public health, with a specific focus on abortion. It can be used both in settings where abortion is legal and accessible and in settings where it is highly restricted.

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Betraying women: Provider duty to report

The longstanding provider-patient confidentiality relationship is quietly eroding as an alarming number of medical staff across Latin America are reporting women and girls to the police for having abortions. Many countries now require, protect or encourage medical providers to breach their confidentiality duties when they treat women seeking postabortion care. This publication covers the three main ways health-care providers are compelled to breach confidentiality, based on the varying Latin American laws governing provider obligations on the issue of abortion. It also details how such laws impact both providers and women, and lists the many international bodies, declarations, consensus documents, etc. that establish standards for protecting patient confidentiality. Finally, the publication provides recommendations for international human rights bodies, governments and health-care professionals to protect women’s right to confidentiality as well as providers’ ethical obligation to uphold that right.

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Access to safe abortion and contraception: Vital for young women globally, a priority for U.S. foreign assistance

The United States, as the world’s foreign assistance leader, must play a key role in safeguarding a comprehensive and integrated approach to sexual and reproductive health and rights for young women. This fact sheet outlines policy challenges that deny young women their sexual and reproductive rights and puts forth policy actions the U.S. government should take: expand family planning funding, repeal the damaging Helms Amendment, permanently repeal the Mexico City Policy (also called the Global Gag Rule), and continue to work toward a progressive sexual and reproductive health agenda in platforms like the International Conference on Population and Development and the United Nations.

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Young Women and Abortion: Avoiding Legal and Policy Barriers

This resource is designed to help advocates and policymakers promote laws and policies that support access to safe abortion for young women. Parental involvement requirements in law or policy are common barriers that push young women toward illegal and often unsafe abortion.

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How to protect abortion access during constitutional reform, June 2011

This toolkit is designed to help reproductive rights advocates participate in national constitutional reform processes. It looks at the potential consequences of constitutional protection of life at conception and outlines ways reproductive rights advocates can influence the constitutional reform process. It also may be useful for advocates facing constitutional amendments or engaging in litigation.

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When a health professional refuses: Legal and regulatory limits on conscientious objection to provision of abortion care

Health professionals’ refusal to provide service that they oppose on moral or religious grounds is a significant barrier to women’s access to safe abortion and other reproductive health services. This resource contains recommendations for enacting laws and regulations that safeguard women’s access to services while still protecting providers’ rights of conscience. It also provides information on human rights standards that address provider refusal and includes a list of further resources.

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Zika underscores need for reproductive justice for all women

In Latin America, government responses to the Zika virus have been weak, disregarding the best interests of pregnant women and those who may become pregnant. This brief outlines Ipas’s stance on governments’ responses to the Zika crisis and women’s sexual and reproductive health needs. The brief also lists measures states can take to protect women’s health and rights during the Zika outbreak.

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