There are 214 million women of reproductive age in developing regions who wish to delay a pregnancy but are not using a modern contraceptive method. Women and girls must have access to the full range of family planning and reproductive health care to ensure they have prosperous lives—no matter where they live. This includes their right to abortion care.
Abortion opponents have sought to bar or limit that right, both in the United States and through U.S. foreign assistance, since the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade. Despite the fact that abortion is legal in the United States and an internationally recognized right, U.S. foreign assistance policies put that right out of reach for poor women around the world.
Evidence shows that restricting the right to abortion does not stop the need for abortion care. Instead, it prevents safe abortions. The majority of unsafe abortions occur in the developing world where some of the strictest anti-abortion laws are in effect. When women cannot seek abortion care from trained health professionals and fear prosecution, they must obtain the procedure in secret, often through “traditional or nonmedical” methods that can lead to severe complications. Many women and girls die from these complications. In fact, eight to 11 percent of all maternal deaths are related to unsafe abortions. They are an easily avoided, key contributor to the global maternal mortality rate. Denial of the right to access safe and legal abortion is a violation of women and girls’ human rights.