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Safe abortion

About 25 million unsafe abortions happen around the world every year – almost all of them in low-income countries. Rutgers’ dream is to end unsafe abortions. We work for the widespread availability and affordability of safe abortion worldwide.

Unsafe abortion leads to death and serious illness

About 7 million women and girls are hospitalised annually due to abortion-related complications, which can often lead to serious and lifelong health problems. More than 22,000 die.

Death or medical complications are much more likely where abortion is prohibited or restricted than in countries where it is legal.

It is in countries with little or no access to sex education or contraception where women and girls are often criminalised by sweeping laws against abortion, taboos prevail and the environment is not conducive to safe and quality abortion care.

Our dream is to end unsafe abortions worldwide

Women and girls of all ages – regardless of their religion or economic status – should have the right to choose about their own lives and bodies, including whether or not to have a child, and receive the necessary support to realise these choices safely.

Everyone – women, men and young people – should have access to modern forms of contraception.

Every person who experiences an unintended pregnancy should have access to safe and legal abortion

Better access to contraception and sexuality education will reduce the need for abortion services, but safe, legal abortion will always be necessary.

Appropriate training of healthcare professionals in methods and post-abortion care is vital.

Rutgers helps women seeking an abortion to find a safe provider. We raise awareness and provide information for women, their partners and relatives, and the broader community about the dangers of unsafe abortion, and the options for safe abortion.

We do this through community outreach, impactful marketing and media work, online and offline behaviour change communication campaigns and advocacy at various levels.

Our goal is to keep – or get – safe abortion on the political agenda

We advocate for progressive laws, policies and social norms that respect the rights of women and create environments where safe abortions can be accessed. If women can access contraceptives and safe abortion methods and services, they are free to make a choice.

If more unintended pregnancies can be avoided, there will be fewer unsafe abortions. In turn, this will reduce avoidable complications that are costly to treat in hospitals and release resources for other vital healthcare issues.

Our approaches are reducing unsafe abortions

Rutgers’ comprehensive, integrated approaches have already started to reduce the number of unsafe abortions.

There is still a lot of work to be done to end unsafe abortions and stop unnecessary and preventable deaths

But with the fierce support, adaptability and resilience of our national and global partners, we are confident we will reach our target to prevent 2.6 million unsafe abortions, 8,000 maternal deaths and 160,000 unintended pregnancies worldwide.

Rutgers’ safe abortion programmes

She Makes Her Safe Choice

Through the Dream Fund: She Makes Her Safe Choice programme, Rutgers and its partners are dramatically reducing the number of unsafe abortions and maternal deaths by improving access to safe abortion methods, contraception, information and services. 

More than 2 million women have benefited from mHealth solutions and 20 million people have been reached through contraception and safe abortion campaigns.

She Makes Her Safe Choice

The programme began in 2018 in Kenya, Ethiopia, and at a global level. In early 2020, we expanded to Francophone West Africa. The WHO estimates there are 1.8 million unsafe abortions in West Africa every year (25% among 15-19 year olds). The death rate is 540 in 100,000 abortions, by far the highest in the world.

Right Here Right Now

Rutgers leads the Right Here Right Now programme. Its focus on safe abortion is mainly articulated in global advocacy and monitoring national commitments to international treaties. With our partners, we advocate for progressive language on safe abortion in these treaties.

In the Netherlands

In our safe abortion work in the Netherlands, we emphasise the inclusion of women in shaping health services that affect them and focus on the responsibility of both the girl or women and her partner during the abortion process.

We work alongside health and education services to provide factual, neutral and non-judgemental information on abortion and referrals to quality care.

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