CALL FOR ACTION: It’s High Time We Lived in a World Free from Abortion Stigma!

This September 28, the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion, the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) in partnership with the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion and La Campaña 28 LAC, [1are calling on our members, partners and allies all around the world to speak out against abortion stigma. 

Abortion – an action undertaken to effectively end a pregnancy – has existed since time immemorial and is a common experience during women’s reproductive and sexual lives. 

Globally, approximately 44 million pregnancies worldwide end in voluntary termination each year.[2] Yet abortion stigma continues to play a critical role in the social, medical, and legal marginalization of abortion care worldwide,[3]constituting one of the main obstacles towards the availability and accessibility of comprehensive abortion information, care and drugs. 

The stigma surrounding abortion is complex and pervasive, as well as produced, reproduced and reinforced at individual, community, institutional, cultural, and legal levels. Entire communities stereotype, ostracize and discriminate against individuals who need and seek abortions, as well as women human rights defenders attempting to help individuals to access this human right. The stigma surrounding abortion thus shames and silences individuals seeking abortion, individuals who have had an abortion, and healthcare providers in this line of work. In some cases, moreover, abortion stigma justifies and upholds restrictive and coercive laws criminalizing abortion, thereby serving as a major contributor to unsafe abortions, and subjecting countless persons to grave human rights violations. The stigma surrounding abortion also intersects with pervasive power relations, patriarchal norms, wrongful gender stereotypes,[4] and privileged identity markers, entailing that safe abortion services are rendered even less accessible for certain groups, among them adolescents, unmarried young women, individuals of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, and other groups living in vulnerable situations. Abortion stigma is so pervasive that it has rendered access to safe and legal abortion virtually untalked about in intergovernmental spaces, as the international community sets out to establish the New Development Agenda which will replace the Millennium Development Goals ending in 2015.

In all of these ways and operating at different, intersecting levels, abortion stigma infringes upon peoples’ human rights, among them the right to bodily and psychological integrity, the right to autonomy, the right to health and the right to life free from harm. 

As such, this September 28 we’re speaking out against #abortionstigma!

Join us in holding government leaders accountable to their existing commitments on access to safe and legal abortion, and advocating for the inclusion of safe and legal abortion in the Post-2015 Agenda!

View the full text of the action alert here