CFUW Joins the International Campaign for Women’s Rights to Safe Abortion

The International Consortium for Medical Abortion (ICMA) has launched a new international campaign for women’s right to safe abortion  to challenge the growing efforts across the globe to block access to safe abortions. There are some groups determined to exclude abortion from maternal mortality reduction and family planning initiatives. CFUW, along with  other organizations and societies have been invited to take a part in the campaign.

The campaign will aim to build capacity to advocate for the right to safe abortion, motivate and support networking, coordinate joint activities, collaborate with existing initiatives and create new initiatives. Additionally, the legitimacy of the right to safe abortion in all international forums addressing women’s health and human rights, including those reviewing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), Fourth World Conference on Women – Beijing, the UN Secretary-General’s initiative for women’s and children’s health, and initiatives for safe motherhood and family planning will also be addressed.

Aims

  1. To build an international campaign to promote universal access to safe, legal abortion as a women’s health and human rights issue.
  2. To support women’s autonomy to make their own decisions whether and when to have children and have access to the means of acting on those decisions without risk to their health and lives.

Objectives

  1. To bring together groups, networks, movements and organizations from around the world to work together in this campaign, to collaborate in existing initiatives and create new ones.
  2. To build strategic partnerships with health professionals, governments, ministry officials, UN and human rights bodies.
  3. To promote the legitimacy of the right to safe abortion in all forums addressing women’s health and rights, including those reviewing the MDGs, ICPD, Beijing, the UN Secretary-General’s initiative for women’s and children’s health, and initiatives on safe motherhood and family planning.
  4. To build capacity to advocate for the right to safe abortion, especially at country level.
  5. To promote young women’s leadership in the campaign at all levels.
  6. To make the impact of unsafe and illegal abortion on women’s lives visible.
  7. To increase public awareness of women’s need for safe abortion, in order to increase public understanding and support.
  8. To commit ourselves to the protection of women having abortions and health professionals providing safe abortions, including in legally restricted settings.
  9. To promote the evidence-based guidance on abortion in the World Health Organization’s Safe Abortion: Technical and Policy Guidance for Health Systems, 2011.
  10. To develop and disseminate key messages to counter the influence of the anti-choice movement and reclaim the language of abortion as a moral decision.
  11. To increase the availability of public funds for abortion.

Guiding Principles

We believe in and advocate for safe and legal abortion as a woman’s human right. Women must be able to take decisions about their own bodies and health care free from coercion: this includes the decision to carry a pregnancy to term or seek an abortion. No woman should be obliged to continue an unwanted pregnancy.

Women’s human rights should be respected, protected and fulfilled. These include women’s right to life, the highest attainable standard of health, bodily integrity, the benefits of scientific progress, and to information, privacy, freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and equality and non-discrimination. The failure to give women access to safe abortion puts these rights at risk.

No woman’s health or life should be placed at risk because safe abortion services are not available to her. All barriers to women’s access to safe abortion should be removed. Women should be afforded universal access to abortion, delivered according to the most up-to-date WHO guidance. Access to safe abortion is a matter of equity and should never be compromised. Abortion should be an integral part of women’s health services, and should be provided as early as possible and as late as necessary.

Abortion should not be restricted, prohibited or criminalised. No woman who has sought an abortion, and no health care provider who has provided a safe abortion at a woman’s request, and no abortion rights defender should be stigmatised, harassed, discriminated against, or prosecuted. Governments should take action to remove laws that restrict, prohibit or criminalise abortion and remove procedural barriers that restrict access to safe abortion services.

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