Why Addressing Unsafe Abortion is Central to the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda

Congratulations to Beatriz Galli, a 2002 graduate of our International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, whose 14-page background paper has been accepted for the Global Thematic Consultation called “Addressing Inequalities: The Heart of the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Future We Want for All. ” Beatriz Galli is the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) regional policy associate for Ipas Brazil, and National Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Sexual and Reproductive Health of the Brazilian Platform on Economic Social and Cultural Rights – DHESCA Brasil. 


Ensuring that abortion – an essential component of reproductive health care – is legal and safe can contribute to reducing maternal deaths and injuries and is central to achieving social justice and gender equality and equity through the post-2015 UN development agenda. Brazil is a case in point with its high rates of induced abortion, maternal deaths and morbidity due to unsafe abortions and disproportionate enforcement of the abortion law on young, poor and black women with low socio-economic conditions and literacy status. Criminalization of abortion contravenes basic human rights and exacerbates inequities among women since criminal laws have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable women.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as human rights treaty monitoring bodies, have stated that countries must review their criminal laws on abortion. Nevertheless, governments continue to criminalize abortion and implement policies denying women’s rights to exercise their sexual and reproductive autonomy. The post-2015 development agenda must focus on ending poverty, improving health and promoting gender equality, shifting from a disease focus to one that seeks to increase women’s reproductive autonomy and human rights. This should include work to decriminalize abortion and ensure that women and girls have access to safe legal abortion as part of a health goal that aims to achieve universal access to needed health care.

This background paper, submitted in English in November 2012, is now online: 14-page paper

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