ASTRA Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health

In support of the September 28 Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion, Sexual Rights Initiative, Center for Reproductive Rights and Ipas have developed a joint statement on abortion rights for delivery at the upcoming 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The session runs from Sept. 11-29, and the most suitable Council agenda item for the statement would appear to be the general debate on the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, scheduled for Monday, Sept. 25.

Being the first such joint statement at the Council, the focus is generally on human rights standards with regard to abortion. Future initiatives could go further, and develop different aspects of abortion rights. A couple of requirements that needed to be fulfilled include connecting the statement with the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and observing the 2-minute limit for the delivery of the statement.

We invite groups and organisations to sign on to the statement by Sept. 20:

– If you have consultative status with ECOSOC, please complete this form, email a signed copy to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., cc or forward the email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and we will add your name to the statement.

– If you do not have consultative status with ECOSOC, please click here to add your name.

Text of statement

HRC36: General Debate Item 8
25 September 2017

Joint statement on behalf of Action Canada for Population and Development, Federation for Women and Family Planning, Center for Reproductive Rights, Ipas, [SIGNATORIES WITH CONSULTATIVE STATUS].

Mr. President,
Through the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, States explicitly agreed to prioritize the human rights of women, including the eradication of gender-based discrimination and violence. However, many States have not yet made the important decision that women’s human rights deserve to be upheld and their lives are worth saving. The continued criminalization of abortion and restrictions on access to and provision of abortion and post-abortion care in many jurisdictions is stark evidence of this.
Around 22 million unsafe abortions are estimated to take place around the world annuallyii, leading to 7 million health complicationsiii and 47,000 deathsiv. In addition, there are major social and financial costs to women and girls, families, communities, health systems and economies. The criminalization of abortion and failure to ensure access to quality abortion services is a violation of the rights to nondiscrimination, to privacy, and to make decisions about one’s own body, and can constitute torture or ill-treatment, as repeatedly highlighted by UN bodies and experts.v Prohibiting abortion pushes it underground and gives rise to unsafe abortions, violating the rights to life, health and bodily autonomy. Moreover, the poor and those already facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination are disproportionately affected, making the global community’s pledge to “leave no one behind” ring hollow.

These human rights violations must stop now. On September 28, the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion, we urge the Human Rights Council to address the human rights violations arising from criminalization of abortion and the denial of access to safe and legal abortion services through its resolutions, decisions, dialogues, debates, and the UPR. We demand in a collective voice that governments across the world respect, protect and fulfill the right to access safe and legal abortion services and post-abortion care.
Thank you, Mr. President.