The year 2020 experienced the severe impacts of the novel coronavirus as countries all around the world continue to grapple with the negative effects that has seen hundreds of thousands die and economies devastated. The pandemic not only placed a strain on the health system of countries the world over, but also highlighted major gaps in the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs of women and girls. Many countries have reported increasing cases of sexual and gender-based violence which is exacerbated by poverty, job loss and restriction of the movement of goods and services among others.
YNCSD in some of her interventions addressing abortion related stigma, has worked with journalists and media practitioners on best ways to improve abortion reportage in a bid to destigmatise access to abortion services and care. Read more about YNCSD’s interventions here.
Due to the current reality, pro-choice organisations around the world are asking that telemedicine and self-managed abortions be made possible and safe. This is especially important now as we observe how COVID-19 has resulted in restricted access to sexual and reproductive health services by those most at need around the world.
Abortion might be a controversial issue for many countries and in many societies due to religious and cultural reasons. Debates around abortion usually focus on the justification for purposely ending a pregnancy. In addition to cultural and religious biases, many countries in the world have legal restrictions on abortion under varying circumstances. In Nigeria, abortion is legal only on the condition that a pregnancy may harm the pregnant person.
Despite these restrictions, biases and legal provisions, abortions are still common, with an estimated 73 million abortions occurring each year. Therefore, these restrictions will not stop abortions but will typically lead to unsafe abortions because people who wish to have abortions will seek for it from unqualified persons. While calling for governments to lessen abortion restrictions and decriminalise abortions, pro-choice organisations are also asking that self-managed medication abortion is made possible.
This means that those who need an abortion will be able to legally access abortion pills without having to see a healthcare provider first. This does not translate to eliminating the need for health professionals, but that these individuals are able to access accurate information, support and consultation with a service provider when necessary.
People may need access to self-managed abortions for different reasons, but top of the list may be the need for privacy. The drugs – usually a combination of hormonal tablets – needed to have an abortion should be made widely available to promote access for those who may want to manage their abortion at home.
The safety of medical abortions
The World Health Organisation’s guidelines on medical abortion states that the use of pills to end a pregnancy is safe especially when done in line with approved standards. Everyone who seeks an abortion should be able to decide when, if and how many children they want to have.
A variety of resources are also available to provide information to those seeking abortion services, such as How to use abortion pill.
Here’s how you can lend your voice to improving access to telemedicine and self-managed abortions
- Use the hashtag #IManageMyAbortion to follow and join conversations on social media
- Download our Safe Abortion Saves Lives sticker and spread the word that women need safe, legal and accessible abortion at all times.