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Joint civil society statement on Abortion at the 51st session of the Human Rights Council

The image is a banner calling for safe abortion for all. It says: "Full decriminalisation. No restrictions."

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We recognise International Safe Abortion Day, and we celebrate civil society and feminist movements around the world for their courageous advocacy and activism that has resulted in the liberalisation of abortion laws in more than 58 countries since 1994.  We remind states that being forced to keep an unintended pregnancy amounts to torture and is in contravention to the letter and spirit of the Vienna Declaration. 

The trend of decriminalisation, provision of access to self-managed abortions and removing unnecessary legal restrictions to abortion services should continue until all persons can secure their right to bodily autonomy without discrimination. Any regression, such as recently experienced in the US, is an outlier and should be strongly condemned by the international community. 

We welcome the 2022 WHO Abortion Care Guideline that recommends the full decriminalisation of abortion, universal access to abortion and self-management options. Many states continue to undermine the fulfilment of human rights by denying bodily autonomy, criminalising abortion, lacking clear standards and guidelines on safe abortion, imposing third-party authorisation and denying lifesaving health services.

The human rights framework can only remain relevant if the right to bodily autonomy is ensured for all. It is the only way forward to make the ideas of Vienna a reality today.

Thank you. 

This statement was released to mark the upcoming International Safe Abortion Day on 28 September 2022, by the Sexual Rights Initiative, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development, CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Ipas, the International Service for Human Rights, Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women. MSI Reproductive Choices and the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education have developed a joint statement on abortion rights for delivery at the 51st session