Access to Safe MR Services is Human Rights

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According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, the many challenges to gender equality that women face throughout their lives, the area of women’s sexual and reproductive health remains one of the most contested, and is among the fields in which women are facing the biggest backlash. Women face many obstacles to access to abortion, including the unaffordability and inaccessibility of services due to geographic and information barriers, poor quality of services and conscientious objection. Conscientious objection, in particular, cannot be a basis for denying women access to abortion and the states need to regulate the procedure to secure accessibility of abortion.

Furthermore, the over medicalization of abortion procedures is another issue of concern, particularly in cases of use of pharmacological drugs (medical abortion). Women should be enabled to use medical abortion in more private settings while having access to health service providers in cases of complications in line with the WHO guidelines.

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Unsafe abortion is among the leading causes of death for pregnant women. Restrictive abortion laws endanger lives of women and imposes hardship on them, therefore the claim often made by opponents of abortion that their stance is “pro-life” is misleading. It is known that in countries where termination of pregnancy is restricted by law and/or otherwise unavailable, safe termination of pregnancy is a privilege of the rich, while women with limited resources have little choice but to resort to unsafe providers and practices. WHO data has clearly demonstrated that criminalizing termination of pregnancy does not reduce the number of women who resort to abortion procedures. Rather, it is likely to increase the number of women seeking clandestine and unsafe procedures. Countries where women have the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy and are provided with access to information and to all methods of contraception have the lowest rates of abortion.

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September 28 is observed as the International Safe Abortion Day to mark women’s rights on their own body, and autonomy on their health and well-being through accessing safe abortion rights and services across the globe.

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SERAC-Bangladesh, a member of Inroads global movement organized a discussion meeting in it Mymensingh office on Friday with youth advocates to raise issues around stigma and taboos that hinder youth to access safe menstrual regulation services. SERAC-Bangladesh Executive Director SM Shaikat, Program Director Shahina Yasmin, and Divisional Coordinator Mizanur Rahman Akanda spoke at the meeting while youth representatives from the city were present. Participants including Riad Al Hasan, Iffat Jahan Koli, Rohan and others remarked equitable access to menstrual regulation services is human rights and it must be provided with friendly manner at all service facilities across the country.

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