Topic: Laws & Policies

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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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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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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Who can provide abortion care? Considerations for law and policy makers.

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.

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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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Providers as advocates for safe abortion care: A training manual

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.

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Pathways to safe abortion in Nepal

Since the liberalization of Nepal’s abortion law in 2002, intensive provider training and facility support have proven successful strategies for increasing the availability of comprehensive abortion care (CAC) services in the country. However, little is known about...

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