Comprehensive maternal and reproductive health care (including abortion) for all

April 2018

As Ibis Reproductive Health celebrates International Day for Maternal Health and Rights, we continue to advance the right of women around the world to have access to safe, accessible, and comprehensive maternal and reproductive health care, including the right to safe abortion.

We recognize that each woman has the right to decide when, and if, to be a mother--and having access to health care safe from stigma, unnecessary restrictions, and other barriers is a necessary part of that. Unfortunately, financial and geographical barriers place undue burden on the right to access maternal and reproductive care, particularly for low-income women, women of color, and rural women. US policies like the Helms and Hyde Amendments have global implications—they violate human rights and make it difficult for women to access safe abortion. The reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule cuts off vital reproductive health information and services and has both immediate and long-lasting consequences for women and families around the world.

The right to access abortion is a global issue and even in cases where services are legal, stigma and other factors can prevent women from accessing their full range of reproductive rights. Notably, South Africa's Choice on Termination on Pregnancy Act is one of the most progressive abortions laws in the world, but women still face barriers to accessing safe abortion care due a variety of factors including poor services at health care facilities, lack of trained health personnel to provide the service, lack of information on the law or where to get the service, and fear of judgment. Despite some progress, there remains much work to be done in order to make abortion a permanent part of comprehensive maternal and reproductive health care in all settings, including fighting the abortion stigma that manifests among individuals and within communities and isolates abortion care from other needed services.

The connections between abortion and the full spectrum of maternal and reproductive health care are also evident in the United States, where our research has shown that the more abortion restrictions a state has passed, the worse women and children tend to fare when it comes to their health outcomes, and the fewer evidence-based policies exist that support women's well-being. Our work has found that restricting abortion is not beneficial to women and can interfere with women's reproductive decision making, leading to a number of emotional and financial harms. Women denied abortion care are at an increased risk of experiencing poverty, poor financial well-being, intimate partner violence, physical health impairments, poor emotional well-being, and impediments of life plans. We believe that all women deserve access to safe, accessible, and comprehensive maternal and reproductive health care. Abortion is a necessary part of that.

Please join us on Twitter and Facebook to celebrate International Day for Maternal Health and Rights using #IntlMHDay and #WhatWomenWant.