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AFRO-NETS> International Day of Action for Women's Health

  • Subject: AFRO-NETS> International Day of Action for Women's Health
  • From: Merrill Wolf <WolfM@ipas.org>
  • Date: Thu, 23 May 2002 16:40:49 -0400 (EDT)

International Day of Action for Women's Health

On May 28, International Day of Action for Women's Health, Ipas urges
global action to prevent deaths of women from unsafe abortion

May 23, 2002 - In observance of the International Day of Action for
Women's Health, Ipas calls on political leaders, policymakers, health
care providers and others to take action against one of the most se-
rious, most neglected and most preventable global threats to women's
wellbeing: lack of access to safe abortion-related care.

Since 1987, women's health advocates worldwide have observed May 28
as International Day of Action for Women's Health, to raise awareness
of unacceptably high rates of deaths and illnesses of women related
to pregnancy, especially in poor countries. This year's campaign
theme - Women's Right to Health: A Civil Right - is particularly
relevant to abortion, which is legally permitted in at least some
circumstances in almost every country. Yet women often face great
difficulties obtaining even treatment for abortion complications and
induced abortion for legal indications such as rape, incest and
threat to the woman's life.

Governments' failure to ensure that women can obtain these and other
legal services in a timely manner constitutes a tragic failure to
meet their civic obligations to half their citizens. Moreover, many
governments are party to international agreements committing them to
reduce deaths and injuries from unsafe abortion, including by train-
ing and equipping health care providers to provide safe, timely abor-
tion care. For example, in 1999 governments of more than 180 coun-
tries agreed that "in circumstances where abortion is not against the
law, health systems should train and equip health-service providers
and should take other measures to ensure that such abortion is safe
and accessible." International Day of Action for Women's Health of-
fers an excellent opportunity to renew that commitment.

Every year nearly 70,000 women die from complications of abortion,
usually following abortions performed by unqualified practitioners,
in unhygienic conditions, or both. Millions more suffer serious com-
plications, including life-threatening infection and hemorrhage, of-
ten leading to permanent infertility.

These deaths and injuries need not occur, as simple, low-cost inter-
ventions exist to treat abortion complications. The main obstacle
hindering women's access to safe abortion care is lack of political
will to address this enormous public-health problem. Ipas salutes
health care leaders and providers worldwide who have put women's,
families' and communities' needs ahead of political constraints and
are working to end deaths and injuries from unsafe abortion. Ipas
challenges others to take concrete steps to improve women's access to
contraceptive methods and services to prevent unintended pregnancy,
to safe treatment for abortion complications and to induced abortion,
in circumstances in which it is not against the law.

Ipas is an international nongovernmental organization that has worked
for nearly three decades to reduce abortion-related deaths and inju-
ries and to increase women's ability to exercise their sexual and re-
productive rights. Ipas's global and country programs include train-
ing, research, advocacy, distribution of reproductive health tech-
nologies, and information dissemination.

For more information, contact:
Merrill Wolf
Deputy Director, Public Information and Media
Tel: +1-919-960-5612

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