Radical scale up of medical abortion needed globally urges new IPPF report

SAAF volunteer - Uganda

International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) today launched a new report on global medical abortion access as an urgent call to action. The Her in Charge report presses governments, health, academic and NGO sectors to take immediate steps to stop women from dying and suffering disabilities due to an unsafe abortion by radically scaling up medical abortion efforts.

Nearly one in every two abortions that occur is unsafe – 25 million women each year are forced to find their own, often dangerous, solutions to an unintended pregnancy. The knowledge, the technology, and the experience to make all abortions safe abortions exist. Yet tens of millions of women each year still lack access to completely safe abortions.

Medical abortion – the use of the medicines misoprostol alone or in combination with mifepristone to opt out of a pregnancy – is safe, cheap and simple to administer.

Dr Alvaro Bermejo, IPPF Director General said:

“Medical abortion is not new, but its full potential has not been reached due to the lack of action and prioritisation by governments, donors, medical professionals and private and civil society health providers. The fact we’ve had this technology for so long but is still not as accessible, is a global tragedy.


The report shows that medical abortion has the potential to revolutionise the delivery of safe abortion globally. Without medical abortion, women are denied proper care.They should not be forced to take risks with their health. For all abortions to be a safe abortion, action is needed now”.

IPPF’s Her In Charge report demonstrates how medical abortion access can exponentially increase access to safe abortion, enabling women to be in charge about the decisions about their bodies. An essential part of women’s rights.  Medical abortion facilitates task-sharing, which is transformational in low-resource settings where primary-care level and lay workers are trained and equipped to administer abortion.


Key recommendations:

  • Governments should create a supportive environment to ensure women can access safe and legal abortion, including the political, social, economic, health and legal frameworks.


  • Medical abortion should be embedded in health systems. Governments can ensure the quality, availability and affordability of medical abortion drugs by registering misoprostol and mifepristone in the list of essential medicines of their countries.


  • Women must be supported by health systems in accessing the information they need to have a medical abortion safely and to access post-abortion care. This includes medical abortion without medical supervision. Health systems should include self-administered medical abortion. Women must have full information about medical abortion risks factors, dosage and have access to post-abortion care and contraception.


  • Women must have all options available to them: either medical or surgical abortion, in a health facility or at home – whatever they prefer. It is their right.


The full report can be found here.

More information on the 'I decide' campaign can be found here.