Abortion care is lifesaving, essential healthcare. We’re proud to provide abortion care wherever we can.
As one of the world’s leading providers of comprehensive abortion care, we are unapologetic in our defence of the right to choose and are proud to provide abortion services wherever the law permits.
There will always be a need for abortion care. Every year, across the world, nearly one in three pregnancies end in abortion. It is one of the world’s most safe and common medical procedures. But millions of people are unable to access the services they need to end their pregnancies safely.
Many women don’t know where to turn for support, don’t know what the laws allow, or are too worried about the stigma associated with abortion to ask for help. This lack of knowledge and fear of judgement is putting lives at risk, and that’s what we’re working to change.
A world where every abortion is safe
We believe in a world where everyone has the right to determine their own future, whether that means using contraception to prevent conception or choosing to end a pregnancy.
By providing safe abortion services when and where they’re needed, and where the legal context allows, we support our clients to make the reproductive choices that are right for them. In 2022, MSI supported 4.7 million clients globally to access an abortion or post-abortion care service.
Providing life-saving post-abortion care, following an unsafe abortion
In settings where it’s difficult to access abortion care, for example due to legal restrictions or a lack of services, people are forced to resort to unsafe abortions. In these cases, MSI provides post-abortion care — a lifesaving service for women who experience complications from an incomplete, spontaneous miscarriage or an unsafe abortion. MSI’s teams are trained to assess and treat any damage caused and provide urgent care.
Abortion: the facts
Abortion, when delivered in line with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines, is one of the world’s safest medical procedures. Here are the facts on abortion safety:
What is a safe abortion?
Abortion is a very safe, simple, and common medical process or procedure to end a pregnancy, either via a surgical abortion or a medical abortion (abortion with pills). Worldwide, an estimated 29% of pregnancies – nearly one in three — end in an abortion every year. In the UK, 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime and in the United States, it’s 1 in 4 women.
Safe abortion is defined as an abortion carried out with a method that is recommended by the World Health Organisation, appropriate for the point of gestation (the number of days or weeks since the person’s last menstrual period) and provided by someone with the necessary skills and commodities.
Safe abortions can be provided either with pills, known as a medical abortion, or a simple outpatient procedure in a clinic, known as a surgical abortion. The most appropriate method will depend on the gestation, local clinical policies and the client’s preference.
How safe is abortion?
When completed in line with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the world. A study by the University of California, San Francisco looked at over 50,000 abortions performed and found that over 97% of patients received a safe, simple and complete procedure.
All abortion services provided by MSI Reproductive Choices are provided in line with the World Health Organisation’s definition of safe, using a recommended method and supported by trained providers.
A medical abortion, also known as ‘abortion with pills’, is a safe way to end a pregnancy and effective 97% of the time when used correctly.
The most effective method of medical abortion is the combination regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol, taken in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. First, the mifepristone pill is taken, which blocks the main pregnancy hormone. Then 1 to 2 days later, the second medicine, misoprostol, is taken, which causes the lining of the womb to break down, resulting in bleeding and loss of the pregnancy. A few hours after taking the second pill, the pregnancy will be passed through the vagina.
Abortion medications can either be taken in a clinic or can be safely self-managed by women at home, with the right support. The World Health Organisation’s guidelines on health worker roles recommend that women themselves can safely self-manage medical abortion when they have access to the appropriate information and a health facility if they require medical support at any stage.
Telemedical abortions, where the abortion is self-administered at home, are just as safe and effective as having a medical abortion in a facility. Studies have shown that telemedicine can reduce waiting times for clients and is a preferred route for many. In a recent UK study, two-thirds of telemedicine clients shared that they would choose telemedicine again should they need an abortion in the future.
A surgical abortion is a simple outpatient procedure in a clinic to remove the pregnancy from the womb, using either a vacuum aspiration process or a method called dilation and evacuation (D&E), depending on the duration of pregnancy. Both methods are extremely safe, when undertaken in line with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines, and most women can go home within a few hours of the procedure.
Which abortion method is right for me?
The abortion method that is safest and right for someone will depend on a range of factors, including how many weeks pregnant they are, and the client’s personal preference.
Your healthcare provider will be able to advise on which options are available during the client counselling session, so you can make an informed choice.
If you’re seeking information about your reproductive choices-without any manipulation or judgement-know that we are here to support you and your right to choose. Find out where we offer care and how to get in touch.
More on MSI’s abortion services
We’re working towards a world where everyone has reproductive choice. Find out more about our abortion and post-abortion care services and how you can help.
Find our services
If you’re looking for services, we may be able to assist you depending on where you live and your situation. Find out where we work and how to get in touch.
Delivering abortion care globally
Last year, MSI supported 4.7 million people globally with an abortion or post-abortion care service. Find out more in our annual review.
Donate to support abortion access
It only costs £6 per year to provide someone with life-changing reproductive healthcare, giving them the power to decide if or when to become pregnant. Help us protect reproductive choice.