Improving access to safe abortion in the Latin America and Caribbean region

An estimated 3.7 million unsafe abortions take place in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region each year, leading to the deaths of almost 4,000 women; an unknown number suffer physical and emotional complications. Morbidity and mortality due to unsafe abortion are almost entirely preventable. Over the past three years, Ibis has worked with local partners in the LAC region to improve access to safe abortion using three approaches:

  1. Conducting and disseminating action-oriented research: We have conducted and disseminated research on the knowledge and opinions of Peruvian ob/gyns related to legal abortion; the costs of unsafe abortion in Mexico; and possible ways to simplify and improve access to medication abortion. In the next two years we will document the cost savings to health care systems after liberalizing abortion laws in Mexico and Colombia.
  2. Supporting country-specific activities linking physician leaders and women’s groups: In Peru and Bolivia, we work with the national ob/gyn societies and local NGOs to sensitize physicians about unsafe abortion and to work toward improving and expanding abortion access for legal indications. (In both countries, abortion is illegal except in cases when the pregnancy threatens the health or life of the pregnant woman. In Bolivia, abortion is also permissible for pregnancy that results from rape.) In the next two years, we will work with these same groups to develop national protocols for legal abortion.
  3. Supporting a regional network of researchers, advocates, and clinicians working in the area of safe abortion: Ibis plays a leadership role in the Latin American Consortium against Unsafe Abortion (CLACAI).

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