Free and informed decision making about pregnancy and childbirth is a basic right. It is therefore important that health systems ensure that women have the opportunity to have safe abortion services or post-abortion care to the fullest extent of the law.

There are a lot of different reasons for girls or women to decide to end a pregnancy:

  • Not able to support and care for a child, either economically, physically or psychologically

  • Contraceptive failure

  • Pregnancy as result of rape

  • Desire to stay in school or pursue higher education

  • Risk to the health and wellbeing of the (young) woman

  • Risk to the health and wellbeing of the foetus

  • Just not ready to have children

In most countries in the world abortion is legal under some or all circumstances and some countries see it as a woman’s right to decide whether to continue a pregnancy or not. Girls and women can go to a health facility to have a safe abortion performed by a professional service provider.

In many countries the law severely limits access to abortion, which causes abortion services to be provided by non-professionals in risky environments. They are often done in a rush and an unhygienic way, which puts women’s life at risk of health complications or even death.

Unsafe abortion is done in a number of ways, some involve giving herbs, or medicines or chemicals to terminate the pregnancy, while others involve putting unsafe and unhygienic instruments into the vagina. Unsafe abortion is dangerous and risky and if you have been exposed to it then go to a health centre to access post-abortion care. It is a human right for women to have access to safe abortion services, because it ensures that women can attain the highest possible standard of health.

Safe abortion can be performed through surgery or medication and an abortion performed by a skilled provider in safe conditions is one of the safest medical procedures.