Advocating for abortion access is unlike advocacy on any other global health-care issue. This publication shares insights and lessons learned by Ipas staff and our partners around the world through decades of advocacy work to expand abortion access. The content outlines key obstacles and opportunities that advocates encounter, plus strategies for overcoming common challenges.
Improving Access to Abortion in Crisis Settings: A legal risk management tool for organizations and providers
This tool is designed to help program planners and organizations understand abortion law and manage legal risk when providing or supporting access to abortion for people who are displaced by crisis. It provides general guidance and can be used online or in-person and with program teams, field teams, program managers and other decision-makers. It can also be incorporated in risk- and security-assessment processes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sexual violence and unwanted pregnancy: Protecting the human rights of adolescent girls and young women
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.
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.
Organized in four parts, this training manual aims to foster an advocacy perspective in health-care providers who are involved in delivering abortion and/or postabortion care. The manual will help providers recognize their personal power as advocates and identify different circumstances and means to advocate for comprehensive abortion care to the full limits of the law.
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 on women in Kenya, where abortion is legal under certain circumstances.
When talking about the Helms Amendment and U.S. foreign assistance for safe abortion, these key messages are simple and represent what voters feel, according to 2020 polling results.
This factsheet provides an overview of the Helms Amendment and how it harms the world’s most vulnerable women by denying them access to safe abortion services.
This memo summarizes key findings from an online survey among 800 registered voters nationwide conducted by Hart Research on behalf of Ipas.
Even as governments around the world are liberalizing their abortion laws, the vast majority of countries still legally require one or more healthcare providers to approve or perform abortion. Such requirements criminalize women who lack access to healthcare providers and seek abortion without one. Such women are often the world’s poorest and most marginalized women.
Advocacy for access to safe legal abortion: Similarities in the impact of abortion’s illegality on women’s health and health care in Pernambuco, Bahia, Paraíba, Mato Grosso do Sul e Rio de Janeiro
This document gives a summary analysis of primary and secondary data documenting unsafe abortion and the impact of the criminalization of abortion on women’s lives and health and on health services in 5 Brazilian states: Mato Grosso do Sul, Rio de Janeiro, Bahía, Pernambuco, and Paraíba.