This statement was broadcasted at the 51st Session of the Human Rights Council Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development on September 15th, 2022. The statement was delivered on behalf of the Safe Abortion Advocacy Initiative Global South Engagement (SAIGE), in commemoration of International Safe Abortion Day on September 28th. View the video statement here.
Thank you, Chair.
I am Indah Yusari from the Asian Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW). I am making the statement on behalf of ARROW and the Safe Abortion Advocacy Initiative Global South Engagement (SAIGE).
We are witnessing multiple uncertainties and crises in the world today, overturning of the Roe V Wade judgment, global pandemic, climate crisis, backlash against human rights activists are some of the many violations of human rights that we are witnessing. Lack of access to safe abortion care is one of the leading causes of preventable maternal death and disability. According to the World Health Organization, about 73 million induced abortions take place worldwide each year. Global estimates from 2010 to 2014 demonstrate that 45 percent of all induced abortions are unsafe and that developing countries bear the burden of 97 percent of all unsafe abortions.
Abortion bans are designed to control people’s bodies, reproductive freedom, and their future. They disproportionately harm the most marginalised and vulnerable and are a violation of a person’s human rights and bodily autonomy. The right to safe abortion is simultaneously an issue of gender equality, bodily integrity, and personal liberty, and cannot be perceived as a separate right on its own but as one which helps define and clarify all other rights, and contributes to the overall framework on the sexual and reproductive autonomy of individuals.
Depsite the pushback we are witnessing on reproductive rights we have seen a steady momentum of progress for abortion legislation and policies across many countries, particularly in the global south. Since 1994, 60 countries have liberalised their abortion laws, armed with human rights and global momentum, advocates around the world have won landmark victories protecting the right to abortion. These gains have been won against the backdrop of a public health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, which significantly disrupted healthcare services, in particular, sexual and reproductive health services, across many countries.
Right to Safe Abortion is a human right and no pregnant person should be denied of this. Recognition of safe abortion as a part of essential healthcare has been under question since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Access to safe abortion services were severely impeded in many countries in the Global South. These conditions unfairly impacted the most vulnerable groups of pregnant persons The states should declare abortion as a emergency service and implement telemedicine and other online tools to care for health needs of pregnant persons. As advocates from the Global South we call for abortion decriminalisation and the adoption of legal frameworks that enable pregnant persons to exercise their right to bodily autonomy, health and life.