International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion Invitation to join the Campaign
3 May 2012
Dear colleagues and friends,
This letter is to tell you about a new international campaign for women’s right to safe abortion, which was launched very quietly earlier this year following almost a year of discussions and consultations with many advocates of abortion rights around the world.
There are many organizations working worldwide to improve women’s access to safe abortion services – through advocacy, law and policy reform, capacity building, service delivery, training, information sharing and networking. Almost everyone we talked to felt there is a growing need to link together and combine our efforts towards ensuring the right to safe abortion in all our countries. We agreed that we needed an international movement to challenge the growing threat posed by conservative political and religious forces who are seeking to turn the clock back, block efforts to improve laws and provide services, and exclude abortion from maternal mortality reduction and family planning initiatives.
This campaign aspires to become such a movement, and to become larger than the sum of its parts by uniting us across borders and constituencies. Involvement in the campaign is open to all civil society and other groups/ organizations/ networks/ individuals who endorse its aims, objectives and guiding principles and who support women’s right to safe abortion.
This letter is to invite you/your group/ organization/ network to get involved, and to bring into the campaign other abortion rights advocates who are keen to become involved too, including young women’s groups and organizations.
Attached to this letter, please find the aims, objectives and guiding principles of the campaign, which were drafted and agreed by the first campaign planning meeting in London on 20-21 April, attended by 26 abortion rights advocates from India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Kenya, Moldova, Poland, Portugal Romania, Russia, Switzerland, UK, Argentina, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and USA, who are working at national, regional or international level. ICMA was asked by the meeting to coordinate the campaign, initially for a period of three years.
The meeting agreed that the primary focus of the campaign will be to build capacity to advocate for the right to safe abortion at national level, because change can only happen on the ground in countries. We also agreed to motivate and support regional networking organised by national and regional advocates, to plan and coordinate joint activities, to collaborate in existing initiatives and to create new initiatives. Lastly, we agreed to act together to promote the legitimacy of the right to safe abortion in all international forums addressing women’s health and human rights, including those reviewing the MDGs, ICPD, Beijing, the UN Secretary-General’s initiative for women’s and children’s health, and initiatives for safe motherhood and family planning.
The month of May will be focused on bringing as many groups and organizations as possible into the campaign so that on 28 May, the International Day of Action for Women’s Health, all of us who have joined the campaign can announce that it exists publicly in the course of whatever activities we may have planned or may yet plan for this purpose.
The April meeting also agreed:
(1) to call on everyone in the campaign to prioritize organising national events and actions on the right to safe abortion for the International Day for the Decriminalization of Abortion on 28 September, in conjunction with existing initiatives being planned for that day (information forthcoming), in whatever way is appropriate to our country contexts, and
(2) to collaborate to convene regional networking meetings by the end of 2012 to plan appropriate and feasible action for the next few years, develop plans for capacity building in countries for advocacy and training, and start to build a democratic movement, working from the grassroots up, to campaign for universal access to safe, legal abortion as a women’s health and human rights issue.
To endorse and get involved in the campaign, please sign via the survey monkey at:
After we receive your endorsements, we will send you the notes from the first planning meeting, the list of those who attended, and the list of actions agreed at the meeting and details of how we propose to communicate with each other about them and share news, information, experience and advocacy skills.
This campaign is a work in progress and is only just beginning. To succeed in our aims and objectives, we will need the leadership, collaboration, creativity and political commitment of everyone who supports women’s right to safe and legal abortion. We invite you to join us!
Please forward this letter to everyone working for abortion rights that you know and trust, and invite them to endorse and join the campaign along with you.
And don’t forget to fill in the survey monkey yourself – today!
We look forward to hearing from you!
With best wishes,
Rodica Comendant, Suchitra Dalvie
ICMA Coordinators on behalf of the Campaign planning group
International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion
- To build an international campaign to promote universal access to safe, legal abortion as a women’s health and human rights issue.
- To support women’s autonomy to make their own decisions whether and when to have children and have access to the means of acting on those decisions without risk to their health and lives.
- To bring together groups, networks, movements and organizations from around the world to work together in this campaign, to collaborate in existing initiatives and create new ones.
- To build strategic partnerships with health professionals, governments, ministry officials, UN and human rights bodies.
- To promote the legitimacy of the right to safe abortion in all forums addressing women’s health and rights, including those reviewing the MDGs, ICPD, Beijing, the UN Secretary-General’s initiative for women’s and children’s health, and initiatives on safe motherhood and family planning.
- To build capacity to advocate for the right to safe abortion, especially at country level.
- To promote young women’s leadership in the campaign at all levels.
- To make the impact of unsafe and illegal abortion on women’s lives visible.
- To increase public awareness of women’s need for safe abortion, in order to increase public understanding and support.
- To commit ourselves to the protection of women having abortions and health professionals providing safe abortions, including in legally restricted settings.
- To promote the evidence-based guidance on abortion in the World Health Organization’s Safe Abortion: Technical and Policy Guidance for Health Systems, 2012.
- To develop and disseminate key messages to counter the influence of the anti-choice movement and reclaim the language of abortion as a moral decision.
- To increase the availability of public funds for abortion.
International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion
We believe in and advocate for safe and legal abortion as a woman’s human right. Women must be able to take decisions about their own bodies and health care free from coercion: this includes the decision to carry a pregnancy to term or seek an abortion. No woman should be obliged to continue an unwanted pregnancy.
Women’s human rights should be respected, protected and fulfilled. These include women’s right to life, the highest attainable standard of health, bodily integrity, the benefits of scientific progress, and to information, privacy, freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and equality and non-discrimination. The failure to give women access to safe abortion puts these rights at risk.
No woman’s health or life should be placed at risk because safe abortion services are not available to her. All barriers to women’s access to safe abortion should be removed. Women should be afforded universal access to abortion, delivered according to the most up-to-date WHO guidance. Access to safe abortion is a matter of equity and should never be compromised. Abortion should be an integral part of women’s health services, and should be provided as early as possible and as late as necessary.
Abortion should not be restricted, prohibited or criminalised. No woman who has sought an abortion, and no health care provider who has provided a safe abortion at a woman’s request, and no abortion rights defender should be stigmatised, harassed, discriminated against, or prosecuted. Governments should take action to remove laws that restrict, prohibit or criminalise abortion and remove procedural barriers that restrict access to safe abortion services.