Abortion in the criminal law – Call for Action and Research Document by International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion

International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion issued a report “Abortion in the criminal law: exposing the role of health professionals, the police, the courts and imprisonment internationally”. The report exposes  the role that criminal law, police, courts, prisons and health care providers have on both women’s ability to access safe abortion services and health professionals’ ability to provide such services globally.

The International Campaign calls on abortion rights supporters at country level to document whether and how the police, the government and the health, justice and prison systems, including individual health professionals and their professional associations, are involved in enforcing the criminal law on abortion – in countries all over the world. A good deal of research has already been done to uncover existing cases by the Campaign members who contributed information for this report, many of whom are also actively involved in working for the release of women and abortion providers from prison and for abortion law reform.

The evidence summarised here shows that: (1) women have been subjected to degrading and humiliating treatment and have had their civil, political and legal rights grossly violated in multiple ways, and (2) many abortion providers are risking their professional careers and their lives to help women, while others are deeply implicated in reporting women to the justice system for punishment.

For the International Day of Action for Decriminalization of Abortion, 28 September 2013

WE CALL FOR:

• research on the extent of reporting, investigation, harassment and prosecution of women and safe abortion providers in all countries around the world,
• legal action to obtain the release of those in prison,
• national health policy based on the principle of ‘do no harm’ and confidentiality, that health professionals must not report women who have had abortions or safe abortion providers to the police,
• cessation of investigation, harassment and prosecution of health professionals and closure of clinics helping to women obtain safe abortions and/or providing treatment for complications of unsafe abortion,
• cessation of investigation, prosecution and imprisonment of women who have had miscarriages, stillbirths and induced abortions,
• Constitutional courts and other legal bodies to hear evidence and legal arguments on why it is not in the public interest to prosecute safe abortion providers or women who have had abortions,
• recognition that illegal and unsafe abortion is a serious public health problem (ICPD 1994),
• recognition that safe, legal abortion is essential to ensure pregnant women’s right to life and health,
• the decriminalization of abortion, and
• universal access to safe, legal abortion.

To access the full text of the document, click here

To access the website of the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, click here