With 13% of all maternal deaths being attributed to unsafe abortions, the need for advocacy and awareness of access to safe abortion persists.
Just over a month ago numerous activists, organizations and governments observed the September 28 Campaign ? the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortions. This day, which has been observed in Latin America and the Caribbean for numerous years, was adopted by Womens Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) in 2011 with the intent to create global awareness on the topic, dispel myths and give a voice to those 21.6 million women who are compelled to resort to unsafe abortions each year.
Recent improvements in laws and legislation pertaining to abortions in countries such as Mozambique have highlighted that women deserve safe and non-discriminated sexual and reproductive health care services. However, just an amendment on paper isnt enough. The next challenge is to eliminate stigma for abortion provision from within the medical fraternity to create a safe environment for women to access these services.
In a study conducted in South Africa, a country with one of the most liberal abortion laws in the world, it was found that 11% of medical students would not refer a patient under any circumstances to another abortion provider, whilst 17% would discourage other health care workers from providing abortions. This illustrates that there is a clear disparity between individuals differentiating their personal views from their professional ethos and etiquette.
I know of a woman who contracted Rubella during the first trimester of pregnancy and subsequently opted to terminate her pregnancy. She was one of the fortunate ones to receive non-discriminatory, holistic care to make an informed decision with optimum knowledge and care. This is the gold standard at which abortion care should be rendered, and it can be achieved in our generation!
As medical students and future health care leaders, the fate of providing access to safe abortion rest on our shoulders. We should demand for more specialized training in abortion care during our undergraduate degrees, become advocates of positive change and practice medicine as stated in the Hippocratic Oath.
It is time for us to make a united stand that women should be allowed to exercise choices over their own body.
For more information on WGNRR September 28 campaign Diverse Actions, Different Places, One Demand!, as well as access to videos and resource material please visit their website: http://www.september28.org
Author: Vikar Singh, Program Coordinator for Maternal Health and Access to Safe Abortion
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