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

September 28 – International Safe Abortion Day

September 28 has been a regional campaign for decriminalization of abortion in Latin America and Caribbean for nearly twenty years before being taken on by SRHR activists all over the world as a Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion in 2011.

Ensuring universal access to safe abortion is a fundamental human right, we cannot view it as only a “women’s issue.” It is a fundamental human right, which intersects with and is integral to realizing social, economic and reproductive justice. When individuals are able to access safe abortion, along with comprehensive sexuality education and a range of contraceptives, the social good outcomes are numerous – including plummeting maternal mortality and morbidity, and significantly reduced rates of STIs and teenage pregnancy. Other positive ripple effects include an increase in women and girls’ ability to continue education; increased gender equity and women’s empowerment; and reduced intergenerational transfers of poverty, among many other integral benefits.

We have been witnessing a number of alarming rollbacks regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Some of the most recent rollbacks include:

-the reinstatement and expansion of the Global Gag Rule

-funding cuts to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

-and new law proposals in a number of countries such as Poland and El Salvador, attempting to ban abortions or criminalize “suspicious” miscarriages. In the entire Central and Eastern European region we are observing a backlash against reproductive right and also rising religious fundamentalism and the rise of right-wing policies.

Even in countries where abortion is legal or decriminalized, we are seeing on-going or renewed attempts to uphold obstructive barriers such as mandatory waiting periods, parental/marital consent requirements, prohibitive costs, and limited services in rural and remote areas. These barriers restrict access to timely and affordable safe abortion services, disproportionately affecting lower-income groups who are unable to afford private healthcare services, or travel to better-serviced areas.

WGNRR, with ASTRA as a partner organization, undertakes September 28 annual campaigning activities in collaboration with its members, partners, and allies around the world, and as a member of the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion

In light of the current context, it is all the more imperative that we tap into both past and present forms of ongoing collective resistance, reminding ourselves of important achievements, and the power of collective organizing and mobilizing, propelled by local and individual actions. Our aim this year is to thus highlight, promote, and support the many different ways activists are currently challenging the status quo and resisting in diverse contexts. These seemingly small actions add up, make waves and contribute to collective movements. When I resist, we persist. In turn, collective mobilization also feeds and sustains individual mobilization, through motivating and inspiring individuals, activists, and allies to continue our important abortion advocacy.

This year, the materials developed for campaigning and advocvacy include visual materials, such as comic strips on various cases from the world, such as the Black Protest in Poland that is a great example of mass mobliziation and resistance (click!). 

Visit http://www.september28.org/ for more details and reports from local partners and examples of resistance and follow #September28 #Sept28 #IResistWePersist #safeabortion on social media