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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.

Tisungane Sitima was one of the first students in the gender and development program at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Malawi—an experience that set her on the path to becoming a champion of sexual and reproductive rights. In this Q & A, she talks about why she became an advocate and her work as chairperson of Ipas Malawi’s initiative to protect access to abortion and contraceptive services during—and beyond—the coronavirus pandemic.

If you haven’t heard of Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng—known popularly as Dr T—you have somehow missed her ubiquitous presence on radio, TV, social media and numerous other platforms. She’s a medical doctor, sex expert and health activist. She’s a member of the South Africa Commission on Gender Equality and was recently appointed as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health. Dr. Mofokeng is also the author of A Guide to Sexual Health and Pleasure. She took time from her busy schedule to field some questions from Ipas.

If your organization receives global health assistance (monetary and non-monetary) from the U.S. government, there may be certain types of abortion-related work that you cannot perform—and these restrictions can even limit work funded from sources other than the U.S. government.

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.

This resource is an excerpt from Ipas’s Roots of Change: a step-by-step advocacy guide for expanding access to safe abortion. The purpose of this section is to provide you with the key considerations and practical resources necessary to ensure a sustainable and well-functioning coalition for your advocacy work.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

Imagine a world without the stigma surrounding abortion. Abortion would be recognized as health care. People would not be deprived of their right to make their own reproductive decisions. Abortion providers would not be isolated or face physical threat …

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.

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.

For women who want to end their pregnancies, laws that allow only medical doctors to provide abortion are real barriers. Abortion can safely be provided by nurses, midwives, paramedical personnel and other midlevel providers. Women who have correct information can take pills to end a pregnancy safely outside a health facility. However, many abortion laws require the involvement of one or more medical doctors. These laws criminalize women and other health professionals who end pregnancies safely without a doctor. Under doctor-only laws, health systems—particularly in the global south—cannot train enough abortion providers to make abortion accessible to all women. Doctor-only laws discriminate against women who belong to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups and who are least likely to have access to medical doctors. Lawmakers need not designate who can provide abortion in the law. Documents such as national health standards and guidelines are better suited to clarify who are authorized providers. This publication explains how Standards and Guidelines, enacted by the Ministry of Health and ideally updated every few years, can reflect the latest scientific evidence in abortion care.

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.

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.

This publication provides evidence and explanation for why Ipas urges governments and policymakers to ensure that all young women—including survivors of sexual violence—have access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care, including safe abortion services.

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.

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.

Abortion by trained providers is a safe and common procedure, legal under at least one condition in nearly every country in the world. Yet women and girls living in humanitarian settings often cannot get this essential reproductive health service—even when it’s available to other women in a country hosting refugees.