Imagining a World Free from Postabortion Care Stigma

Written by: PAC Consortium Community and Stigma Task Force

  • Every year, 47,000 women die because of unsafe abortion and millions more face injuries, including hemorrhage, infection, chronic pain, secondary infertility and trauma to multiple organs.1
  • Unsafe abortion accounts for 13% of pregnancy-related deaths worldwide.2
  • Of the 38 million abortions performed annually in developing countries, more than half are unsafe (56%); in Africa and Latin America, virtually all abortions are unsafe (97% and 95%, respectively).
  • Of the 8.5 million women annually that require medical attention due to unsafe abortions, only 3 million of those women actually obtain it.3

This year’s September 28th Global Day of Action, part of the campaign activities undertaken by the  International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, imagines a world free of abortion stigma. The same factors that contribute to abortion-related stigma for women seeking services and health providers also lead to stigmatization of postabortion care (PAC) services (the treatment of complications from spontaneous and unsafely induced abortions).

Until there is universal access to safe and legal comprehensive abortion care, PAC for the treatment of incomplete and unsafe abortions remains an essential element for the reproductive health and rights of women and girls worldwide.

In solidarity with the International Campaign’s vision of a stigma free world, the Postabortion Care Consortium’s Community and Stigma Task Force calls for a world where women are able to access stigma-free, safe, and affordable PAC services from professional health providers – regardless of the legal status of abortion in their country – and a world where service providers are able to offer safe, respectful PAC services without facing stigma themselves. Moreover, all governments need to be held accountable to follow through on the international agreements they have committed to and provide PAC to those who need it.

The task force envisions a world where women and girls:

  • Know where to access facilities that provide safe PAC services
  • Are assured of receiving respectful, stigma-free, and confidential care from health providers
  • Are able to access a full package of PAC services, including emergency obstetric treatment, counseling, contraception before discharge from the health facility, and other reproductive health services
  • Are free from age and sexuality stigma when accessing PAC services
  • Are free from stigma in their communities
  • Are not refused PAC services as a result of narrow or incorrect interpretation of the law in contexts where abortion is highly restricted
  • Do not die or suffer from disabilities as a result of spontaneous or unsafe abortion

Join us in this call to remove all barriers to PAC and to eliminate stigma, which is at the root of these barriers. Click here to learn how you can make your voice heard.


1. Barot, Sneha, “Implementing Postabortion Care Programs in the Developing World: Ongoing Challenges,” Guttmacher Policy Review 17, no. 1 (2014): 1, accessed September 5, 2014, http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/gpr/17/1/gpr170122.html.
2. Guttmacher Institute, “Facts on Induced Abortion Worldwide,” In Brief (2012), accessed Feb. 16, 2014, http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_IAW.pdf.
3. Singh S, “Hospital Admissions Resulting from Unsafe Abortion: Estimates from 13 Developing Countries,” Lancet, 368, no. 9550 (2006): 1887-1892.