Abortion - a matter of human rights and social justice


The right to safe abortion, to determine when and if to become a parent, and the right to healthy sexuality is an issue of both human rights and of social justice. Induced abortion is one of the most commonly performed medical interventions. Making abortion illegal does not reduce the number of abortions. Access to safe abortion and legalization of abortion can prevent unnecessary suffering and death of women.


In countries where abortion is legal and available, abortion is an extremely safe procedure.  Making abortion illegal does not reduce the number of abortions; it simply reduces the safety of abortion. According to The World Health Organization (WHO) 20 million of the 42 million abortions performed every year are illegal and unsafe. In every country, it is young, rural and low-income women who bear the most suffering from unsafe abortion.  These women are often already mothers, struggling to support the children they already have.  With no safe options, women try to abort using sharp instruments or unsafe chemicals, or they seek help from people with no medical training. As a result, a woman dies of an unsafe abortion every 10 minutes (about 47 000 women every year).

Death from unsafe abortion is totally preventable.  Worldwide more than 1/3 of all pregnancies are unplanned. Every year nearly 1/4 of all pregnant women worldwide choose to have an abortion (approximately 42 million women annually). Induced abortion is one of the most commonly performed medical interventions in every country in the world. The legalization of abortion can prevent unnecessary harm and death for millions of women around the world.

Currently, approximately 25% of the world population lives in many countries (mainly in Africa, Latin America and Asia) with highly restrictive laws that either ban abortion entirely or permit it only to save the life of the pregnant women.  These restrictive abortion laws violate women's human rights based on agreements made at the UN International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

It is time to make abortion legal, safe and accessible in every country of the world, so that the right to health is a reality for every woman, regardless of age, race, income or geography.