With abortion rights under threat, we celebrate five heroic abortion providers and advocates who go above and beyond to deliver reproductive choice in their communities.
The road to delivering choice is never straightforward. From the geographical challenges of delivering access in remote villages, to an emboldened anti-choice movement, five of our providers share how they navigate hurdles and go above and beyond to protect reproductive choice, locally and globally.
‘We are not going back.’
Banchi Dessalegn Ph.D., MSI Africa Director
“Growing up in Addis Ababa, the lack of access to information and services was hard to ignore. Someone I knew committed suicide after becoming pregnant because she didn’t know where to turn”
Banchi, MSI’s Africa Director, shared. It’s experiences like this that set Banchi’s career path to her current role, overseeing a team of 4,500 providing contraception, safe abortion and life-saving post-abortion care services, as MSI’s Africa Director.
As an Ethiopian American, Banchi was disappointed by the U.S Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe Vs Wade – a decision which she says,
“has the potential to harm women, not just in America but around the world, and undermine the efforts of countries across Africa to recognise a woman’s right to choose.”
Despite this, Banchi’s commitment to protecting choice across the African continent is unwavering: “We vow to protect choice. We are not going back.”
‘There were some that couldn’t be saved.’
Sophornnary, MSI Provider, Cambodia
Having worked in reproductive healthcare both before and after abortion was legalised in Cambodia, Sophornnary has seen first-hand the impact that abortion restrictions have on health, lives and futures.
Before legalisation, Sophornnary recalls that “The death rate from unsafe abortion was high but so too were unsafe abortion rates… Many women ended up with heavy bleeding and there were some that couldn’t be saved.”
Now, as abortion is legalised in Cambodia, Sophornnary is proud to provide reproductive choice to everyone who needs it.
Since the law change, Sophornnary has worked with the local authorities, health centres, and referral hospitals to raise awareness of contraception and safe abortion. Her work spans both delivering care and tackling societal abortion stigma head-on. For Sophornnary the two are inextricably linked.
‘Those who have used my services come to me and say I’ve saved their lives.’
Pragati Soti Khanal, MSI Lady, Nepal
Pragati Soti Khanal’s bag is packed with hand sanitiser, medical equipment and a box with an assortment of pills; it weighs an impressive 15kg. Some days she treks, other days she hitches a ride in a passing car or bus to reach the remote communities in Nepal’s mountains above the clouds. It is here, in the Tanahun district, that Pragati provides contraception and safe abortion services to local women and their families.
By providing reproductive choice in communities with no other access, Pragati’s contraception and safe abortion services are changing lives and supporting futures.
“Those who have used my services come to me and say I’ve saved their lives”
For Pragati, being an MSI Lady is more than just a job.
“Family planning gives a woman control of her own body… [Medical abortion] is related to the dignity of women, it allows them to do this without all of the eyes on them. That’s why it is important to me.”
‘Every day is an achievement; the fact that a woman has been able to make her choice.’
Susana, MSI Abortion Provider, Mexico
Time has passed since Susana’s teenage days, when she attended…
“a school of nuns where the situation was very strict – everything was a sin, and everything was wrong”
It was this stigma around sexual health that inspired Susana to pursue a career supporting reproductive choice. Susana has worked as an abortion provider for MSI Mexico for several years now.
“No day is ever the same. Our challenge is to help women [make] their decision by removing the stigma and the taboo. When a woman or a girl trusts us and comes to us for a safe abortion, we are saving their life.”
Susana shares that when you provide access to abortion care, supporting women to make whatever choice is right for their future, “every day is an achievement”.
‘We are all devoted to our clients, and I’m really proud of that.’
Shelley Doherty, MSI Front of House Assistant, England
Shelley’s first interaction with MSI was when she supported her husband with his vasectomy at one of our clinics. However, when they arrived, they were met by a large group of anti-choice protesters. It was this experience that inspired Shelley to join our Fallowfield, Manchester team, protecting choice.
Since joining, Shelley has supported a successful campaign to create a ‘buffer zone’ in Manchester, meaning anti-choice protests can no longer take place within 150 meters of the clinic and clients can access healthcare free from intimidation and harassment.
“My favourite part of the job is sitting at the front desk and welcoming our clients,” Shelley shared. “We are there to support them. I’m so proud to be a part of that.”
Every day, MSI’s providers support over 67,000 people with their reproductive choices, with access to contraception and safe abortion care. This impact would not be possible without our frontline providers who deliver choice, against all odds.
With reproductive rights under attack in the US, we would like to thank every single team member providing and advocating for abortion access, to bring choice to their communities. We are honoured to support you and proud to stand by you every step of the way.
With reproductive rights under attack in the US, it is not too late to protect reproductive choice around the world.
With your support, we can continue to provide access to abortion care, change more laws and reach more women.
Donate today and help us to protect choice for millions of women and girls around the world.