YSNAP Coordinator, Rinaldi Ridwan and and Rishita Nandagiri had a few things to say on young people, bodily integrity, abortion rights, and sexual orientation in our Opening Ceremony speech at the Global Youth Forum in Bali:
28th September 2012
Save Lives : Access to safe, legal and comprehensive abortion services for all!
The IPPF East and South East Asia and Oceania Region (ESEAOR) joins forces with organizations from all over the world today as part of Global Day of Action to Safe and Legal Abortion. Nearly half of all abortions worldwide are illegal and most illegal abortions are taking place in developing countries[i]. In ESEAOR, only 6[ii] countries have a legal framework supporting the provision of legal and safe abortion. Over 3 million[iii] unsafe abortions happen yearly in the region, with poor and rural women more likely to experience severe complications as they depend on unsafe methods and providers[iv].
Criminalizing abortion does not prevent unintended pregnancy or women from seeking abortion services. Rather, it encourages unsafe and clandestine abortion services that place women in vulnerable positions that could cause long-term problems.
The proportion of women using modern contraceptive methods in this region has remained the same or at a lower rate than in the past hence access to appropriate contraceptive information and services is urgently needed in order to reduce unintended pregnancy. Even when many women responsibly practice family planning, unplanned and unintended pregnancy happens
Hence it is clear that legal, affordable and accessible safe abortion services have to be openly provided by all governments, health institutions and trained health providers as enshrined in a multitude of health and human rights conventions. Equally important is to remove the legal and policy barriers that prevent women from accessing safe abortion services.
Nora Murat, Regional Director of IPPF ESEAOR said, “IPPF is committed to advocate for reproductive health policies and programs that include safe, legal abortion. We also strive to ensure availability of comprehensive abortion services including treatment for complications due to unsafe abortion and access to information and family planning methods by young and adult men and women.”
In conjunction with the International Campaign for Decriminalization of Abortion, IPPF-ESEAOR is launching a short video entitled ‘Ending Unsafe Abortions in Asia’ that captures the effects of criminalizing abortion in the region through the lens of women. We will also be sharing other resource materials on medical abortion and a compilation of stories from the region on abortion related issues.
As one global community of health activists, let us all join forces for a resounding call to all governments and sectors of society to value life. Provide access to safe abortion services now!
IPPF is a global service provider and a leading advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all. We are a worldwide movement of national organizations working with and for communities and individuals.
Dr. Mark Molina
Senior Program Officer
MMolina@ippfeseaor.org, +603 4256 6122
[i] Sedgh I et al, Induced abortion: Incidence and trends worldwide from 1995 to 2008, Lancet, January 2012
[ii] International Planned Parenthood Federation ESEAOR, Global Indicators and Service Statistics, 2009.
[iii] WHO 2008. Unsafe Abortion: Global and Regional estimates of unsafe abortion and associated mortality in 2008, 6th edition. Geneva: WHO.
[iv] Guttmacher Institute, Facts on Abortion in Asia. January 2012
By Jeross Aguilar, Rinaldi Ridwan, and Victoria Wong Li Leng
We agree that no young woman wants to perform unsafe abortion if she has other choices such as access to contraception or safe abortion. Abortion is chosen when the pregnancy comes without any planned
Some common reasons that make young women perform abortion is:
-Not ready to become a parent
-Can’t afford a baby (high cost in nurturing a child)
-Do not want to be a single parent
-Do not want people to know she has had sex or is pregnant
-Too young or immature to raise a child
-She was a victim of rape or incest
-She or the foetus has a health complication
And in the context of East and South East Asia and Oceania region where most of the law where most countries restrict abortion , young women face a lot of barriers in accessing the services. These barriers are:
-Lack of information
-Lack of high quality services provided by supported staff
-Misconception of service provides on safe and legal abortion
-Mandatory parental consent
-High cost of services
All these gaps have to be addressed, as young people should not be denied of their basic human rights accessing to right of sexual health information and youth friendly services. We agree that abortion should be performed in a safe method. However it is extremely important to reduce and eliminate unsafe abortion by two ways:
- Providing access to youth friendly sexual and reproductive health services and comprehensive sexuality education.
- Doing advocacy to make abortion safe, legal and accessible for all young women everywhere.
Knowing that there is a lot of legal barrier and realising on the other hand that safe abortion is a part of women’s reproductive rights that must be fought, how can you advocate for legalizing access to safe abortion? Here are some arguments, message, and preferred language that can help you in doing this.
Abortion is a killing??
- All young women have the right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term and the right to access safe, legal and affordable abortion services. No young woman should be forced to become a mother.
- A foetus or embryo is not subject to human rights. Only people are entitled to human rights. While all life has value, including foetal life, it is only persons who have rights.
- All young women have the right to access safe abortion services.
- All young women have the right to make decisions about their bodies and decide if, when and how to have a child.
Abortion is bad for health??
- It is unsafe abortion that results in high levels of morbidity and mortality. Abortion when performed safely carries very little complications.
- Legal, accessible and safe abortion saves young women’s lives. Only when young women have access to safe abortion services do medical complications and maternal mortality from unsafe abortion become truly rare.
- There are different methods of performing safe abortions that can be used in different circumstances and depending on the young woman’s choice (medical abortion, vacuum aspiration, surgical abortion).
- Unsafe abortion is a public health concern, especially for young women. Lack of access to safe abortion services is also a human rights violation.
Young women must have parental, guardian or spousal permission to have an abortion??
- Mandatory parental involvement or spousal consent laws and policies are barriers that prevent many young women from accessing safe abortion care. We encourage young women to seek the help of a supportive adult of her Choice
What do you think? Do you have any other way to make the language softer and acceptable? Let’s tell us!
 Youth Messaging Checklist: IPPF, London: January 2011
By Jeross Aguilar, Rinaldi Ridwan, and Victoria Wong Li Leng
Speaking about safe abortion, it can be punished with criminal charge for some countries in East and South East Asia and Oceania region. Surprisingly, this region has a wide range of law in which the safe abortion can be performed. Safe abortion in many countries within the East, South-East Asia and Oceania region is restricted to specific conditions, mostly health related but otherwise may be considered a criminal offense.
Based on our concern, we believe that safe abortion is a part of women’s reproductive rights. Safe abortion is important to be acknowledged and legalized as this may pertain to maternal death as women who have no access to contraceptive information and services and who could no longer support their growing number of children must desperately resort to unsafe abortion procedures. Let’s see how abortion law performed in 12 countries in ESEAO region that lay down permissible conditions for safe abortion.
Laws on abortion either expressly allow abortion to be performed only to save the life of a woman or are governed by general principles of criminal legislation which allow abortion to be performed for that reason on the ground of necessity. In addition, the British case of R. v. Bourne or local application of that decision applies. Under that decision, the ground of necessity was interpreted to encompass abortion performed on grounds of preserving physical and mental health.
Laws on abortion do not expressly allow abortion to be performed to save the life of a woman, but general principles of criminal legislation allow abortion to be performed for that reason on the ground of necessity.
Same as Fiji
Criminalisation of abortion in the Philippines
Specifically, in the Philippines safe abortion has been restrictive since 1930s and women who undergo abortion are imprisoned, as well as those who assist her to have an abortion – husband, midwife, parents, etc. The law is not also explicit in allowing abortion to save a woman’s life.
Unfortunately, proposal to liberalize the abortion law are strongly opposed by the Catholic Church. Current statistics show an increase of women having unsafe abortions which nearly half a million a year primarily for economic reasons – poor, too many children, and cannot afford health care. (Guttmacher study).
“Other attempts to reduce unsafe abortion through contraception and family planning are also blocked by the Catholic Church. It is hoped that passing the Reproductive Health Bill will significantly reduce the incidence of unsafe abortions.” – Jeross, youth representative from FPOP.
Malaysia: lack of knowledge to legal status of abortion mainly on health provider
Moving to Malaysia, it has always been a taboo to talk about having an abortion Abortion has always been a taboo in Malaysia. According to the survey results conducted with 120 doctors and nurses, there is evidence that there are judgmental and unsympathetic perception of many health care providers on abortion and unwanted pregnancies Evidence in a survey conducted among 120 doctors and nurses suggests that health care providers are judgmental and unsympathetic of abortion and unwanted pregnancies (S.P. Choong, 2008). Lack of knowledge to legal status of doctors, nurses, the media and the public that abortion is restricted in Malaysia has been a major barrier for young women to access health information and services (Kamaluddin, 2008).
However section 312 of the Penal Code of Malaysia permits abortion on these grounds: to save the life of the woman; to preserve her physical and or mental health. Furthermore, The Malaysian National Population and Family Development Board Survey on secondary school students in 2007 revealed that 21.2% who knew their friends have unwanted pregnancies, and 10% who has friends whom had undergone abortion (LPPKN, 2007).