This was a turbulent year for abortion rights. Global interest in abortion and reproductive rights has never been higher.
While the US took a devastating step backwards with the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe V Wade, the rest of the world is moving forward.
Step by step, country by country, inspiring progress is being made. Here are five big moments of progress in global reproductive rights that we’re proud to have been part of:
— solidarity and action to help American women
The big news out of North America this year was the US Supreme Court’s shocking decision to remove the legal right to abortion by overturning Roe V Wade. This dismantling of women’s rights was felt around the world. Adapting quickly to an unthinkable situation, MSI Mexico started welcoming Americans to their clinics and other Mexican pro-choice allies are sending medical abortion pills across the border, helping women access safe abortion care.
MSI Mexico’s network of 9 clinics offers abortion to whoever needs it. Our clinics in Chiapas, Oaxaca and Mexico City have recently provided abortion care to American clients, and following the Roe V Wade ruling, the team opened a new clinic in Tijuana (just across the border from California). With an ever-growing number of women turning south of the border for help, our colleagues in Mexico are doing whatever they can to protect abortion access. 💙
2. UNITED KINGDOM
— at-home abortion ✔️ buffer zones ✔️
Back in March, we celebrated a major victory when MPs voted to make at-home abortion a permanent option. Telemedicine gives women the option to receive medical abortion pills by post and take them in the comfort of their own homes. MSI advocated for telemedicine, with our evidence showing decision-makers that it’s safe, convenient and many people prefer it to visiting a clinic. It’s a powerful tool to make abortion more accessible. And the result of the vote speaks for itself!
Speeding into October, MPs voted again, this time in favour of ‘buffer zones’ in England and Wales, meaning anti-choice groups will no longer be able to harass those seeking and providing abortion care outside clinics. Once passed through the House of Lords, this will protect over 100,000 women a year to access abortion free from intimidation and harassment. MSI’s Louise McCudden says it best: “At long last, everyone will have the right to access vital reproductive healthcare with safety, dignity, and privacy.” 💙
— it doesn’t matter if you’re married or not, abortion is for all
In a “ray of hope”, abortion and women rights activists across India (and the world) celebrated India’s Supreme Court ruling in September that all women have the right to safe and legal abortion whether they’re married or not.
FRHS, an MSI programme in India led by Ashutosh Kaushik, have been part of the Pratigya Campaign for Gender Equality advocating for expanded access to abortion—so they were obviously delighted with the decision. Ashutosh said, “At a time when sexual and reproductive health and rights are under threat globally, this progressive judgement is particularly welcomed. It’s a huge victory for India.”
This decision will help Indian women make their own decisions when it comes to their own bodies and futures. It’s certainly earned its place as a 2022 highlight. 💙
— more money, better post-abortion care
Post-abortion care is providing emergency medical treatment for complications from an incomplete miscarriage or unsafe abortion. Over 7 million women are hospitalised every year after having an unsafe abortion, and post-abortion care saves many lives.
In Kenya this year, three county governments allocated extra money (£470,000 more than the previous year) towards post-abortion care, creating a specific budget for it. County governments are recognising the importance of post-abortion care in an unprecedented way, giving visibility to this life-saving service, and paving the way for more county governments to follow suit.
MSI Kenya helped make this happen through their established partnerships with county governments to strengthen health systems. Leveraging these relationships and joining forces with other advocacy partners, MSI Kenya, as a leading provider, built confidence in the legality and importance of post-abortion care. They kept these discussions rooted firmly in healthcare to avoid being swept up in political debate. 💙
— medical abortion now available at local pharmacies 💊
Finally, we’re visiting Ethiopia for more good news. In June, the Ethiopian Food and Drug Administration added medical abortion pills (misoprostol & mifepristone) to their “essential medicines” list. When prescribed by a health provider, women will now be able to access these pills at pharmacies across the whole country, helping them manage their health on their own terms by using abortion pills at home.
MSI Ethiopia and other advocacy partners evidenced the toll of unsafe abortion and promoted the solution of pharmacies supplying medical abortion pills. Not only does it reduce unsafe abortion and maternal deaths, but it also alleviates some of the demands on the public sector health system. Putting choice in women’s hands is always going to reap benefits.💙
We firmly believe the right to choose life-saving and life-changing reproductive healthcare should never be up for debate—and we won’t rest until everyone can access safe abortion. Inspired by the progress made this year and determined to push back against anti-choice groups, we’re doubling down. Bring on more progress in 2023!
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