The Fight for Universal Access to Abortion
The international human rights and global health communities gathered with policymakers and government leaders last month in Washington D.C. to make the case for universal abortion access. The resulting outcome document, the Airlie Declaration on Safe Legal Abortion, calls on governments and policymakers to legalize abortion globally.
This unheralded collaboration arrives on the heels of another first: a report from the UN secretary-general calling for access to safe abortion. The timing for a global initiative of this nature for universal access to abortion is crucial, as a review of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to set a post-2015 agenda as well as a 20-year review of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD + 20) are currently underway.
Two organizations at the forefront of the initiative to ensure universal access to abortion as a necessary part of a comprehensive package for sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) include the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and Ipas. Both organizations signed on to the Airlie Declaration as representatives of their respective organizations.
“Abortion is just another service, like access to contraception or comprehensive sexual education or HIV treatment,” said Ceclia Espanoza, Ipas advisor for Latin America. “The problem is that every time we talk about this full comprehensive package of services, there is always a lot of stigma around abortion. If it is not stated, it is not part of the service and the agreement.”
Carmen Barroso, regional director of International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR), argues that providing legal and safe access to abortion makes economic sense for developing countries. “Sustainable development depends on strong economies and strong economies depend on SRHR [sexual and reproductive health and rights], that’s the bottom line,” she said.