Gabrielle Falk

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    Teenage pregnancy in Sweden

    Gabriella Falk, Sweden

    Topic and problem: Teenage pregnancy rate in Sweden is low compared to other European countries. However abortion rates are high despite education in school about sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and access to youth clinics and subsidized contraceptives. To find reasons for this we conducted an interview-study with questions aimed at examine teenagers experiences with contraceptives and to explore the reasons behind their contraceptive choices. The participants attended an out-patient clinic.

    Methods: Twelve teenagers who had applied for induced abortion were interviewed three to four weeks after abortion. The interviews comprised open questions about contraceptive experiences focusing on hindrance for contraceptive use. Six topic questions were used with further exploring questions posed  when needed. Qualitative content analysis was resorted to.

    Results: One theme was identified:Struggling with feelings of uncertainty and patterns of behaviour. Three categories emerged from the analysis. Uncertainty dealt with decisions and behaviours that varied with time and between the different individuals. Factors that influence contraceptive use dealt with the persons that the participants had discussed contraceptives with, how they acquired knowledge about contraceptive use and the nature of their behaviour.  Anxiety dealt with the side effects of contraception

    and feelings of fear related to contraceptive use.

    Conclusion: The participants had feelings of uncertainty, anxiety and fear towards contraceptive use which led to non use and inconsistent use. They revealed insufficient knowledge about SRH at times. Guidance from health care providers and access to youth clinics varied and was sometimes unsatisfactory. Parents were supportive of contraceptive use but not active in the process of getting their child to initiate it. Friends and the Internet were the main sources for acquiring information that was not always correct

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    Gabrielle Falk, Division of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Sweden

    Co-authors: A.B.Ivarsson, School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University and J.Brynhildsen,

    Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Sweden

    Topic and problem: Teenage pregnancy rate in Sweden is low compared to other European countries. However abortion rates are high despite education in school about sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and access to youth clinics and subsidized contraceptives. To find reasons for this we conducted an interview-study with questions aimed at examine teenagers experiences with contraceptives and to explore the reasons behind their contraceptive choices. The participants attended an out-patient clinic.

    Methods: Twelve teenagers who had applied for induced abortion were interviewed three to four weeks after abortion. The interviews comprised open questions about contraceptive experiences focusing on hindrance for contraceptive use. Six topic questions were used with further exploring questions posed when needed. Qualitative content analysis was resorted to.

    Results:One theme was identified:Struggling with feelings of uncertainty and patterns of behaviour. Three categories emerged from the analysis. Uncertainty dealt with decisions and behaviours that varied with time and between the different individuals. Factors that influence contraceptive use dealt with the persons that the participants had discussed contraceptives with, how they acquired knowledge about contraceptive use and the nature of their behaviour.  Anxiety dealt with the side effects of contraception and feelings of fear related to contraceptive use.

    Conclusion: The participants had feelings of uncertainty, anxiety and fear towards contraceptive use which led to non use and inconsistent use. They revealed insufficient knowledge about SRH at times. Guidance from health care providers and access to youth clinics varied and was sometimes unsatisfactory. Parents were supportive of contraceptive use but not active in the process of initiate it. Friends and the Internet were the main sources for acquiring information that was not always correct. 

Sara Farchi

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    An area-based study in central Italy

    Sara Farchi, A. Polo, D. Di Lallo (Italy)


    Introduction. Italy recently dealt with a consistent migration flow. In Lazio region (main city Rome), a 45% of increase of fertile immigrant women was observed between years 2003 and 2007. This issue represents a challenge for health services because migrant women have more difficulties in access to care.

    This study describes characteristics of migrant women making induced legal abortions.

    Materials and methods. Data were extracted by the mandatory legal induced abortion file containing for each induced abortion performed in Lazio region information on reproductive history, socio-demographic characteristics, gestational age of the woman asking for the interruption. Other information regards the urgency for the abortion, the institution that certificated the interruption, and its characteristics.

    Descriptive analyses and a multivariate logistic models were performed to estimate the risk of multiple induced abortion and the risk of late interruption (at 11-12 weeks of gestation) among migrant women in contrast to Italian ones, including only legal induced abortions performed within 90 days of gestation. Potential confounders included in the models were: woman age, education, marital status and parity.

    Results. In 2007, in Lazio region 14242 abortions within 90 days have been performed. An increasing trend in foreign women induced abortions was observed in recent years: in 2007, the 42.6% of the interruptions were asked by a foreign woman, while in 1987 they represented the 5.4%. At the same time, a induced abortion decreased among Italian women. The 77% of the foreign women were born in non industrialised countries (Romania, Peru and Ukraine). 70% of the migrant women were aged 20-34 years, while Italian ones tended older. A larger proportion of multiple induced abortions and late interruptions were observed among foreign women than Italians. Multivariate logistic models showed that women from non industrialised country had 2,5 times the risk of multiple abortion than the Italians (OR=2.49; 95% CI 95%: 2.29-2.71), while no difference between Italians and women coming from industrialised countries was observed. Moreover, women from non industrialised countries had higher risk of late interruptions than Italians (OR=1.62; CI 95%: 1.49-1.76).

    Conclusion. This descriptive study highlights the need of preventive interventions aimed at improving the quality of reproductive care for these women.

Anibal Faúndes

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    The impact of misoprostol availability on abortion safety
    Aníbal Faúndes1, Leonel Briozzo2, Gonzalo Vidiella2
    1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, State University of Campinas (UNICAMP),
    Campinas, SP, Brazil, 2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine. University of the
    Republic. Montevideo, Uruguay.
    In developing countries with restricted abortion laws, poor women have a very high rate of
    unsafe abortions, which are usually induced by the introduction of sharp objects through
    the cervix, causing infection and hemorrhage. Consequently, unsafe abortion is a main
    cause of maternal deaths, up to being the first cause in Argentina and Uruguay in recent
    years. Misoprostol became available in the 1980s. The label explained that it could not be
    used during pregnancy, as it could cause abortion. That information was used by
    pharmacy’s clerks, to respond to the demand of women requesting a remedy for delayed
    menses. In a few years, from the late 1980’s to the early 1990’s, most abortions in Brazil
    were induced with misoprostol. The same was observed in other Latin American countries
    the following years. Initially women used excessive dosage and some severe
    complications and death (rupture uterus) were reported. In a short time, however, women
    learnt to use misoprostol more effectively and safely. Coincidentally, physicians throughout
    Latin America noticed a reduction in severe post-abortion complications and during the last
    decade several studies confirmed the positive impact of the availability of misoprostol on
    safety of abortion, by reducing septic complications, but also severe bleeding. Studies
    have shown a temporary association between increases in the sales of Misoprostol and
    reduction in the complications of unsafe abortion. Other studies have compared
    complications of clandestine abortions induced with misoprostol and by other unsafe
    means, showing the much greater safety of abortions induced with misoprostol. An
    interesting social intervention was evaluated in Uruguay. Physicians from the largest
    maternity hospital that attends one quarter of all deliveries in the country were alarmed by
    the maternal deaths resulting from unsafe abortion. Based on the risk reduction strategy, a
    special outpatient clinic for women who wanted to abort was open. Women are diagnosed,
    offered alternatives to abortion and given the available evidences on the risks of different
    form abortion induction, including different doses and routes of misoprostol administration. 

    Virtually all women who persisted in the intention to abort used misoprostol. Since then, no
    maternal deaths have been observed compared with an average of 4 deaths a year during
    the preceding three years. In addition, the severity of post-abortion complications have
    been dramatically reduced, showing the capacity of misoprostol to save life in
    environments where abortion legislation is still very restrictive.

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    The FIGO initiative - How providers are making a difference

    Anibal Faúndes
    State University of Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil

    The FIGO Initiative on Prevention of Unsafe abortion was created in 2007, under the leadership of Dorothy Shaw, with the purpose of reducing the burden of unsafe abortion for women, particularly in countries with restrictive abortion laws. Because abortion is often stigmatised, it was a subject mostly ignored by the obstetric and gynecology societies in those countries and the first task of the FIGO initiative was to bring unsafe abortion and its consequences to the fore and propose strategies for prevention. The obstetrics and gynecology societies and an increasing proportion of their members have become involved in the implementation of these strategies. Of particular relevance is that eleven countries with abortion laws that are not totally restrictive where the law has never, or almost never, been applied started to provide safe abortion using the full extent of the law. In addition, four of the five obstetrics and gynecology societies from countries where abortion is not permitted in any circumstance are actively involved in promoting less restrictive abortion laws.
    One of the countries participating in the FIGO initiative (Uruguay) succeeded in the approval of a law that now allows abortion without restrictions (with regard to the cause) with the very important participation of the obstetrics and gynecology society and its members. This activity of the Uruguayan colleagues started long before the FIGO initiative was created but FIGO helped to disseminate the application of the new law, facilitating access to safe abortion services in the whole country. The FIGO initiative has also contributed to committing many of our colleagues to become involved in replacing surgical curettage with manual vacum aspiration or misoprostol and in the installation or expansion of post abortion contraception services.

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    Timid progress in Africa and Latin America

    Anibal Faúndes
    State University of Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil

    In 2008, when the FIGO Initiative on Prevention of Unsafe Abortion started, twelve countries from Sub Saharan Africa participated and only South Africa and Ethiopia officially offered safe abortion services, although in every country abortion is permitted at least in some circumstances. In 2016, out of the same twelve countries only Tanzania, Cameroon and Gabon do not include the expansion of safe abortion services within the limits of the law in their plan of action. This progress, which may appear as quite impressive, it is still timid because it is still limited to a few larger, usually University, Hospitals. The potential for rapid expansion has not yet occurred with the exception of Ethiopia. The situation in Latin America is even worse. Only Cuba, out of the 17 countries participating in the FIGO Initiative, had liberal abortion law and access to safe legal abortion that is universal. Brazil was the other country where legal abortion after rape was being offered, although limited to a few larger hospitals. Five of these 17 countries have totally restrictive legislations, and abortion is not permitted in any circumstance. Uruguay changed its legislation to a liberal stance and access to safe legal abortion is close to universal. Several other countries are now offering access to safe legal abortion within the limits of the law: for example Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia and the process is in continuous expansion. In addition, proposals for slightly more liberal legislations are being discussed in the five countries where abortion is currently not permitted in any circumstances.

Mary Favier

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    Objectives: The objectives of this study are to describe the health sector's role in establishing or expanding abortion services following legal or policy reform, and to compare strategies used in order to generate practice-based options for the implementation of abortion services. Method: This is a comparative case study of six countries that recently changed abortion laws: Colombia, Uruguay, Portugal, Ghana, Ethiopia, and South Africa. For each, we completed a desk review of published and unpublished data, and conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders involved in the implementation of abortion services. Interview guides were tailored to each country, and stakeholders identified through a network of in-country partners.
    Results: We conducted 58 interviews with healthcare providers, public health officials, academics, and members of advocacy groups. We found that specifics of the laws did not predict their successful implementation. Ministry of Health involvement was key. Collaborations with UN agencies and international NGOs helped establish clinical and training protocols. Integration of abortion into existing public facilities led to more rapid and broader access. Key strategic decisions included a focus on medical rather than surgical abortion; the expansion of midlevel providers' role; and integration of contraception into abortion care.
    Conclusions: We observed a range of approaches to the implementation of abortion services in response to varying legal and policy frameworks.

    Public sector commitment and early involvement was key to the successful establishment of services, and thoughtful adaptations to local contexts can significantly reduce logistical and financial barriers to the equitable provision of services.

Mario Festin

Christian Fiala

Profession: Specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, General Pracitioner
Affiliation: Gynmed Clinic, Vienna

Past President

  • Specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, General Pracitioner
  • PhD at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm,
  • Medical Director, Gynmed Clinic for Contraception and Abortion, Vienna and Salzburg, Austria:
  • Member of the Research Group in Reproductive Health at the Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm,
  • Past-president of the International Federation of Professional Abortion and Contraception Providers, FIAPAC
  • Founder and Director of the Museum of Contraception and Abortion, Vienna,
  • Organising a website on the life-saving drug misoprostol to make it more available:

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    Are the laws patient centred?
    Christian Fiala, MD, PhD, Gynmed Clinic, Vienna, Austria

    For most women the diagnosis of an unwanted pregnancy is unexpected. The women are
    therefore unprepared, be it for carrying the pregnancy to term or having an abortion. They
    need a great deal of information within a very short space of time. In case they have taken
    the decision to terminate the pregnancy, it is crucial for them to get fast access to medical
    It is interesting to analyse legal requirements and regulations in European countries, as to
    how far they support the women in this crisis situation in finding a solution.
    Societies react differently to the needs of the women, although the past was dominated by
    a rigid paternalism, coupled with beliefs that pregnant women could not responsibly make
    decisions regarding their own pregnancy. Society therefore “had” to intervene in order to
    ensure that the “right” decision was taken.
    A huge progress has been made over the last decades to overcome this approach and the
    legalisation of abortion has been a corner stone. However there are still many remnants of
    the old thinking like obligatory waiting (“cool off”) periods of an arbitrary number of days or
    an obligatory counselling.
    So far there is no evidence that these restrictions are of any benefit. They do, however,
    lead to a delay in the provision of the treatment and have negative effects on the physical
    and psychological experience of those affected.
    Examples and comparions of european coutries are given in the presentation.

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    Cervical dilatation with misoprostol in pre- and postmenopausal non-pregnant women

    Kevin Sunde Oppegaard, MD, Ph.D., Hammerfest Hospital, Norway

    Two randomised controlled trials to investigate whether misoprostol is effective for cervical ripening in non-pregnant women were conducted between 2006 and 2009 at Ullevål University hospital, Oslo, Norway.

    In the first trial, one thousand micrograms of self-administered vaginal misoprostol taken 12 hours before day-care operative hysteroscopy showed a significant cervical ripening effect, compared with placebo. However, this effect is limited to premenopausal women; in postmenopausal women, there was no difference in cervical dilatation between the placebo and misoprostol groups. This trial was the first to allocate women referred to hysteroscopy according to their menopausal status and therefore provided a conclusion that was not subject to sub-group nor post-hoc analysis. In premenopausal women receiving misoprostol, a greater number had a satisfactory preoperative cervical dilatation, as compared with women receiving placebo. Dilatation of the cervix was easier and quicker in premenopausal women

    receiving misoprostol.

    In the second trial, one thousand micrograms of self-administered vaginal misoprostol taken 12 hours before day-care operative hysteroscopy results in significant cervical ripening in postmenopausal women, compared with placebo, after 14 days pre-treatment with vaginal estradiol tablets. Cervical dilatation in the postmenopausal study participants was easier and comparable to the premenopausal women from the first trial. Self-administered vaginal misoprostol at home the evening before operative hysteroscopy is safe and highly acceptable. Few side effects were reported. There is a risk of moderate lower abdominal pain and light preoperative bleeding with this regimen, which is inexpensive and easy to use.

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    Closing remarks: How to move forward

    Christian Fiala (Austria)

    Gynmed Clinic, Vienna, Austria

    When applying evidence-based medicine, it becomes obvious that there is no sensible alternative to unrestricted access to effective contraception and safe, legal abortion paid for by social security. In fact, these provisions are inseparably connected with respect for women and their needs. But respecting women implies giving them the power to decide over every aspect of their fertility. History provides us with an abundance of examples and social experiments where societies have patronised women to various degrees. Even forced routine gynaecological examinations have been tried in an attempt to compel women to carry their unwanted pregnancies to term.

    All these initiatives have led to a complete failure in fulfilling the intended goal: To bring a country to glory by increasing its population and military power. However, all these attempts had negative or even catastrophic consequences for the health and survival of women, as well as for societies as a whole.

    Respecting women therefore implies that we truly give women and couples full power to decide over their reproductive choices. It also implies that we must eliminate all remaining obstacles and patronizing restrictions.

    Since women get pregnant by men’s actions, men have a special obligation to provide the legal setting and financial support so that women can decide and act freely on a pregnancy.

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    Future perspectivesThe current situation in abortion care should be
    improved on two levels: medical and social. On
    both levels the focus needs to be the pregnant
    woman rather than external factors.
    On the medical level we need to give more
    autonomy to the woman coming for an abortion.
    The procedure still is very much controlled by
    the medical system and women are forced to
    follow the rules. There is a huge potential for
    more autonomy especially in medical abortion,
    which will be done at home in the future, only
    the drug needs to be bought in the pharmacy
    or drugstore, just like the pregnancy test. This is
    already reality for example in India.
    Also we urgently need better means to effectively
    control pain associated with the medical and
    surgical procedure and for medical abortion we
    need to reduce duration of bleeding.
    Equally important are improvements on a social
    level: real self-determination. Women and couples
    need the legal framework to freely decide on a
    pregnancy and as well all necessary means to
    execute their decision. We have made a huge
    progress from archaic interdiction of abortion to the
    current legal status. However there still are many
    paternalistic remnants when it comes to abortion.

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    Christian Fiala, MD, PhD, Gynmed clinic, Vienna, Austria


    During her 35 years of fertility, a woman experiences an average of 15 pregnancies and 8-10 deliveries, resulting in 6-8 surviving children that she breastfeeds for 2 years each. Then she finally arrives at menopause, if she is still alive. This is natural fertility, undisturbed by artificial interventions. Understandably, such abundant fertility is far too much for most people, men included. Therefore, women desperately sought ways to reduce fertility to the best of their ability.

    It was not until the last century that this goal was finally reached. The first step was to understand how fertility works, which was accomplished with the discovery of fertile days by Knaus and Ogino in the 1920s. The second step was to provide means of effective fertility control with hormonal contraception and safe IUDs in the 1960s. With the introduction of effective contraception, the dream of humanity - to separate fertility from sex - came true. Obviously, this could only be done with pro-active and artificial interventions to overcome the natural course of maximum fertility.

    50 years later, much of the world's population not only enjoys sexual freedom as a consequence of effective artificial contraception, but also an impressive standard of living and an unprecedented degree of self-determination. But instead of enjoying this advance, an increasing number of people reject effective contraceptive methods. They don’t want to ‘pump hormones in their body’, don’t want to have a foreign body (IUD) in their uterus, or don’t want to mess around with diaphragms or condoms. Instead they strive for a ‘natural’ way, which has never existed on this earth. Such futile striving can only be understood as a search for a lost paradise.

    As health professionals, we must revive and reinforce the knowledge that limiting natural fertility can only be done by using an effective and ongoing means of artificial contraception. We need to develop ways to achieve that goal.

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    How to diagnose a complete medical abortion

    Christian Fiala (Austria)

    Gynmed Clinic, Vienna, Austria

    The most widely used definition of a successful medical abortion is the avoidance of a surgical intervention.

    Treatment will result in complete abortion in the vast majority of patients (³95%). However, a small percentage will experience incomplete abortion, missed abortion or continuing pregnancy.

    The following methods are used for evaluating the outcome of treatment at follow-up:

    • Visual verification of expulsion following intake of misoprostol,
    • history of clinical events (heavy or continuous bleeding and pain),
    • gynaecological examination,
    • hCG in serum measured quantitatively,
    • hCG in urine, using a rapid test with a high cut-off value,
    • ultrasound examination.

    The gestational age at the beginning of treatment must also be taken into consideration when considering the diagnostic method used at follow-up. This is because an intrauterine pregnancy becomes difficult or even impossible to diagnose prior to 5 weeks gestation.

    So far no standard has been described for the evaluation of successful treatment and various methods are used in clinical practice. Also, the time delay between mifepristone intake and the follow-up visit varies widely. There is no consensus about a recommended time delay and different providers offer various delays between a few days to 3 weeks.

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    How to verify success hCG or ultrasound
    Christian Fiala, MD, PhD, Gynmed Clinic, Vienna, Austria

    Objectives: Medical abortion with Mifepristone and Misoprostol is effective in 95-98.6% of
    cases. We compared ultrasound examination and HCG testing to determine the
    effectiveness of the treatment.
    Study Methods: 217 women with an unwanted pregnancy up to 49 days of amenorrhea
    were treated between 26 April and 10 November 1999. They received 600mg Mifepristone
    and 400µg Misoprostol 48 hours later. Expulsion was not verified routinely. An ultrasound
    examination and HCG test was performed on day one and between days 6-18.
    Results: The treatment was successful in 98.6 % of cases. A total of three curettages had
    to be performed; one for continued pregnancy, missed abortion and haemorrhage
    respectively. One patient had a missed abortion but expelled after hormone withdrawal.
    Expulsion of the sac was verified in six patients. HCG levels at the control visit dropped to
    3 % in average (SD 3) ranging from 1-17 % in all cases of successful abortion, with three
    exeptions of 27%, 32% and 44%. The two missed abortions and the persistent pregnancy
    led to an HCG rate of 91%, 159 % and 7900% respectively. 

    Endometrium measured 10 mm on average (SD 4) at the control visit in the cases of
    successful abortion, ranging from 1-24 mm. Diagnosis of successful treatment could be
    based on ultrasound examination in only 66% of cases, owing to the early stage of the
    pregnancy in the remaining cases.
    Conclusion: Measuring HCG level before and after treatment gave a reliable result in
    98.5% of successful abortions, compared to 66% with ultrasound examination.

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    Management of follow up/ need of backup curettage
    Christian Fiala, MD, PhD, Gynmed Clinic, Vienna, Austria

    Currently there is no generally accepted standard for follow up after a surgical first
    trimester abortion. Some providers perform an ultrasound immediately after the aspiration
    in order to verify that the uterine cavity is empty. The patient can be discharged then and 

    there is no medical reason for a routine follow-up in these cases where the completeness
    of the abortion has been verified.
    However most providers do not have an ultrasound machine in the operation theatre and
    they estimate completeness during aspiration based on their clinical experience. Many of
    them also check the products of conception (POC) in the aspiration bag for foetal parts.
    This old routine is rarely questioned although most post-abortion complications are caused
    by remnants of endometrial tissue or placenta which can not be discovered by inspection
    of the POC.
    It is therefore suggested that an ultrasound should be done immediately after aspiration to
    verify that the uterine cavity is empty. The ultrasound can be done abdominally in more
    than 90% of cases and the speculum can remain in place. If residua or endometrium is
    discovered, aspiration can be repeated under ultrasound guidance. An immediate post-
    operative ultrasound is the only situation where a truly empty uterine cavity can and should
    be found. At any time later there can be some blood in the uterine cavity which might
    be indistinguishable from residua by ultrasound examination. Therefore any diagnosis of
    residua which is based exclusively on ultrasound needs to be interpreted with caution. The
    decission for a backup curettage might not be based on such a finding alone. It should
    rather take into consideration clinical symptoms. And even sparse villi in the histological
    examination of a re-curettage can be a normal finding after complete surgical abortion.

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    Austria: only in hospitals
    Germany: not available  under study
    Greece: hospital
    Holland: judged not useful
    Spain: price not yet defined
    Switzerland: RU486 = poison so forbidden

    In France:
    Reminder of the law. 75% of cost paid back.
    A week to think over before taking MIFEPRISTONE as well as a psycho-social
    counselling session. Ultrasound between D10  D14 if there is a doubt. Result: 98.5% success rate. Continued pregnancy 1 0/00. 

    Doctors are badly paid.

    In Austria:
    Abortions are carried out by doctors in their private surgeries with out time given
    to think it over. The Church puts pressure on the public hospital system.
    40 000 abortions per year.
    Only one public hospital prescribes MIFEPRISTONE.
    Consultations take place by phone. There is a lack of information.
    Success rate of 97%.

    Choice of method:

    In France:
    The method is perceived as being less aggressive, "natural.
    It represents 14% of the legal abortions in 1990 and 30 to 40% in 1998.

    In Austria:
    The choice is made in relation to how early in pregnancy the request is made.
    A non-surgical method with the possibility of the partner being present.
    The question as to whether the method should be available up to the 63rd day is
    being asked.

    The discussion showed the advantages that would arise from "de-medicalising
    this method and using it at home (defended by A. BUREAU  France) up to the
    49th day of amenorrhe.

    It was accepted that studies must be carried out to reduce the dose of
    MIFEPRISTONE to 200mg and to look into different protocol.

    This third seminar ended after a series of rich and formative exchanges on the
    practices of the different participants.

    A change in the statutes was decided by the founder members. From now on the
    F.I.A.P.A.C. , for democratic and voting reasons, is no longer an association of
    associations but an association of individual members. The membership fee for
    2000 is 250 F.

    It was decided to meet again in Paris for the 4th seminar on 24th and 25th
    November 2000.

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    Contraceptive development has taken place in
    3 milestones:
    1. Discovery of the fertile days by Knaus and Ogino
    in the 1920s. – For the first time ever, women
    were able to understand what was happening in
    their bodies and roughly identify the fertile days.
    But they were not able to control their fertility.
    2. Controlling fertility according to the individual
    desire and possibilities (pill and IUD) in the
    ’60s. - The dream of humankind came true:
    separate fertility from sexual activity. For the
    first time ever, women were able to control their
    fertility themselves and make their own choices
    concerning the number of children. Regular
    menstruation, however, continued. Even in
    women who take the pill and thus have no
    ovulation have their monthly bleeding.
    3. Limiting menstruation to the fertile cycles by
    continuous intake of oral contraception or the
    intrauterine system. – Women can effectively
    control both their fertility and menstruation
    according to their own wishes and limits.
    Currently we are in the process of making the 3rd
    milestone widely accessible and a free choice for
    women. The medical knowledge and technology
    are there. But social acceptance is a slow process,
    which will accompany us for some time to come.

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    Medication After Medical Abortion -

    NSAIDs in pain treatment, Rh-immunoglobulin


    Christian Fiala


    Management of pain during medical abortion has been hampered by recommendations in the product information and guidelines from various sources that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) should not be given to women at least until the follow-up visit eight to 12 days after mifepristone administration. Currently the summary of product characteristics for mifepristone includes advice that, ‘A decrease of the efficacy of the method can theoretically occur due to the antiprostaglandin properties of NSAIDS. Use preferably non-NSAI agents.’ The published evidence does not support these recommendations against the use of NSAIDs.

    Furtheromore NSAIDS are prostaglandin synthetase inhibitors and should have no adverse effect on exogenous prostaglandins. Stated alternatively, NSAIDs don't interfere with misoprostol and there are some good arguments for their use.

    The efficacy of medical abortion in Karolinska Institute and in the General Public Hospital in Korneuburg/Austria has been the same when NSAIDS are used


    Anti-D immune globulin is given in most places after early abortion, although evidence is lacking for the usefulness of this intervention at this early stage of pregnancy. Evidence-based guidelines for the administration of anti-D immune globulin (anti-D IgG) for women undergoing early spontaneous or induced abortions are missing. This is especially true for medical abortion, which is increasingly used in recent years.

    An ongoing study in Sweden is presented.

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    Diagnosing gestational age, viability and location

    Christian Fiala, MD, PhD, Gynmed clinic, Vienna, Austria


    The best method to diagnose a pregnancy depends on gestational age and on the setting.

    hCG in serum or urine is highly reliable in diagnosing a pregnancy and the only way of doing so in very early gestation. But it gives very little information about gestational age and tells us nothing about viability or location of the pregnancy. In very early pregnancy, before it can be seen on ultrasound, it is useful to have a baseline serum hCG for comparison at follow-up. 

    Ultrasound examination (abdominal is sufficient in most cases) is very fast and gives a very reliable result about gestational age and location. But it can only be done in pregnancies over 6 weeks gestation. It also needs a trained provider and the machine might be expensive in some settings. Bi-manual examination is cheap and easy to do but unreliable in early pregnancy.

    Therefore a combination of ultrasound and hCG testing is most reliable.


    Blood grouping (Rhesus)

    This is done in most places in Europe and North America because we want to find those women who are rhesus negative and give them an Rh-immunoprophylaxis. Rhesus negativity is a Kaukasian trait usually not found elsewhere. However there is no evidence for the need of Rhesus-prophylaxis for a first trimester abortion. Foeto-maternal blood transfusion seems unlikely given the small amount of fetal blood, especially in very early pregnancy.

    So far only the health authorities in Sweden (Board of Health and Welfare) have issued a recommendation not to give Rh-prophylaxis in medical and spontaneous abortion.

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    Christian Fiala (A)

    Easy access to safe and effective contraception as well as to legal and safe abortion – both free of charge for those in financial need: no other intervention in human history has had a similarly strong effect in improving women’s health and survival. But it is not women alone who profit from this cultural achievement: men too feel the positive impact of a better health of their mother, sister, partner or daughter. Not to talk about children who need their mother. And even society as a whole is benefiting from improved health status of women. It is safe to say that we would never have reached the high standard of living we currently enjoy, if half of the population would still be at serious risk of health and even life.

    We have succeeded in making most of Europe a safe place for women. But there is still a lot to do. A few countries still have no legal access to voluntary abortion: Ireland, Nothern Ireland, Portugal, Malta and Poland. But even in those countries which have a provision for legal access, an unacceptable number of various obstacles do exist resulting in an unnecessary delay in access to abortion. And there is even a high number of women in Europe who have no access to medical abortion, 15 years after it’s first marketing in France.

    Looking beyond Europe, most parts of the world still stick to medieval European laws on reproductive health. These laws had been introduced by the former colonial powers and have not been changed so far. Consequently women in their daily life run a high risk for the terrible consequences of illegal abortion, including death.


    It is in this context that the association of FIAPAC has been founded, following the congress “Abortion Matters” in Amsterdam in 1995. During this congress it became obvious how much there is to do to overcome the prevailing barriers in access to contraception and abortion and to guarantee a standard of care in “reproductive health”. A few professionals working in the field, recognised the urgent need for regular meetings on this topic. The association was founded thanks to their engagement. Since, 5 congresses have been organised with an increasing number of participants.


    This conference would not have been possible without the engagement and support of many dedicated individuals. The FIAPAC board which has already organised 5 other conferences, has planned since two years. Very important, the team of our clinic which has calmly managed the additional workload while continuing to run the clinic and being dedicated to every single patient. These are mainly Barbara Laschalt, Leila Akinyemi and Margot Schaschl. Some of you may remember being in contact with Florian Hahn who has done all the registrations with admirable patience. Finally I would like to thank the friendly staff of the technical University.

    Nobody is perfect although all of us have tried to come as close as possible. But some mistakes may have occurred during the preparation of the congress and some are probably going to occur during these 2 days.  May I kindly ask you for you to forgive us and please let us know or note them on the evaluation form.

    My special thanks go to the pharmaceutical companies who understand that our patients need a reliable and safe contraception after the abortion. It is my hope that more contraceptive producers will be present at the next congress.


    There are some special events I would like to briefly mention:

    We are working very hard to open a museum of contraception and abortion. It will be located very centrally in Vienna. Furthermore all items will be displayed on the website, together with old books. Unfortunately we did not succeed to open the museum until this congress. But we brought 4 panels displaying a small part of what the museum will be. You may have a look in the entrance hall.

    I would like to take the opportunity to kindly ask you to donate or let us any historic objects or publication.

    There is a list of films dealing with abortion, which will be displayed during these days. They cover a long range of time from 1929 to a new one about the impact of the policy by President Bush. The films are very touching and make clear why we engage in this field. Please find the films on the separate program. It has not been easy to bring together all these films together. Therefore a website will soon be online with a list of different films dealing with abortion. Please let us know in case you know of any other important film on abortion.

    There is the training model for vaginal ultrasound during early pregnancy and medical abortion. We have worked hard to finalise in time and you may be able to try it during the congress for a small fee. This is a new device allowing training without a patient. This system is routinely used in Germany since some time, but it can be used for training for medical abortion and early pregnancy. Tomorrow there is also a presentation about this device.


    Concerning the program, one small mistake has made it in the final version. Please note that tomorrow we will start at 14 00 and not at 14 30 as stated in the printed program.


    Before giving the word to the next speaker I would like to make a short remark on the role of men in this debate.

    As we all know, men cannot become pregnant nor can they have an abortion. Preserving the reproductive health of women is nevertheless in our very own interest and we directly feel the consequences.

    It is therefore our duty to ensure a legal framework and easy access to standard of care abortion services so that women, who after all got pregnant by us, can terminate an unwanted pregnancy without unnecessary delay and suffering.


    To further improve women’s health has been the motivation for all of us to come together. We are looking forward to exchange experiences, listen to each other, learn from each other and find ways to further improve the standard of care of our patients or clients. The success of the congress depends mainly on your engagement. We have been careful in the planning to let enough time for “networking” between the presentations. I hope we will use this opportunity and make these two days an occasion worth to remember.

    Please let me underline how much we appreciate the support, moral and financial of the city of Vienna. Reproductive health is not an empty word in this city, as shown by the impressive engagement in this field. I am therefore very happy to announce Sybille Straubinger, member of the local parliament who is representing the city

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    Society’s responsibility to provide a legal setting

    Christian Fiala (Austria)

    Gynmed Clinic, Vienna, Austria

    For most women, the diagnosis of an unwanted pregnancy is unexpected. Women are therefore unprepared for either carrying the pregnancy to term or having an abortion. They need a great deal of information within a very short space of time. If they decide to terminate the pregnancy, they must have fast access to medical facilities.

    This presentation analyses legal requirements and regulations in European countries to see how far they support women in finding a solution.

    Societies react differently to the needs of women, but the past was largely dominated by a rigid paternalism, coupled with the belief that pregnant women could not responsibly make decisions regarding their own pregnancy. Society therefore “had” to intervene in order to ensure that the “right” decision was made. People who were not directly involved with these unwanted pregnancies dominated the public debate and decided on the relevant laws. Not surprisingly, they operated on wrong assumptions or basic misunderstandings of how a pregnant woman should be treated and cared for.

    Huge progress has been made in the last few decades to overcome this approach and respect women and their needs, including the legalisation of contraception and abortion. However, there are still many remnants of the old thinking, such as obligatory waiting (“cool off”) periods of an arbitrary number of days or mandatory ‘counselling’, even though counselling is voluntary by definition.

    There is no evidence that these restrictions are of any benefit. They do, however, cause delays in the provision of treatment and have negative effects on the physical and psychological health of those affected. Examples and comparisons of European countries are given in the presentation.

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    Today, a dream has come true: for the first time in human history we have the ability to effectively separate fertility from sexuality due to an unprecedented number of highly effective contraceptive methods and the availability of safe abortion. This has allowed us to effectively limit natural fertility to the individually desired number of children.
    It began with the introduction of the birth control pill in 1960, which was hailed at the time as one of the biggest revolutions in human history. The development of effective and safe IUDs quickly followed. The ability to have sex without getting pregnant was very much welcomed by women and their partners and hormonal contraception became the standard within a few years. As a consequence, abortion rates began to decline.
    While abortion continued to decline in some countries with good contraceptive access, rates have remained stable or even increased in other countries with reliable abortion statistics, such as the UK, France and Sweden. This is even more surprising as significant further improvements in hormonal contraception have been made since the introduction of the pill, namely with long acting reversible contraceptives (LARC).
    This contraceptive paradox and the underlying reasons need to be analyzed if we want to use currently available contraceptive methods up to their full potential and effectively reduce unwanted pregnancies.

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    The effects of bad storage conditions on the
    quality and the related effectiveness of Cytotec﷿﷿
    Be´rard, V1; Fiala, C2
    1 University of Bourgogne, France; 2 Gynmed Ambulatorium, Vienna,
    Cytotec﷿ (Misoprostol 200 lg tablet) has been extensively studied
    in reproductive health, and is widely used for various indications
    including induction of pregnancy termination (MToP).

    Misoprostol, a PEG1 is chemically unstable except under very
    specific conditions. This is due to susceptibility to relative
    humidity and temperature factors. If these factors are not strictly
    respected until the moment of intake, misoprostol turns into three
    main degradation products: A-form and B-form prostaglandin
    and 8-epimer.
    patient2ormore200 lgtabletsofCytotec﷿ totake24–48 hours
    aftertakingmifepristone.Cytotec﷿ tabletsarepackagedinboxesof
    50or60tabletsof200 lgeach.Thetabletsarepackagedinheat-
    The aim of this research is to study the effect on the stability of
    misoprostol if a tablet has been exposed to normal air/humidity if
    the alveoli has inadvertently been opened when 2 or more tablets
    have been cut from the blister. A possible instability would have a
    potential negative effect on the treatment of MToP.
    Methods: To study the changes of Cytotec﷿ tablets from a
    technical-pharmaceutical and analytical viewpoint, once they have
    been taken out of their blister pack, they are stored over a period
    of time (a few hours to 1 month) at 25 ﷿C and 60% RH
    (standard condition of ambient air in Europe),
    After the time elapsed, the pharmaco-technical characteristics of
    Cytotec﷿ tablets were studied according to the European
    Pharmacopeia i.e. Mass uniformity, friability, disintegrating time,
    dissolution time (by HPLC). The dimensional measure of tablets
    were also measured.
    Furthermore Cytotec﷿ tablets were analysed to determine the
    uniformity of dosage units of misoprostol (by HPLC),
    decomposition products dosage (by HPLC): A-form misoprostol
    (Pharm. Eur. impurity C), B-form misoprostol (Pharm. Eur.
    Impurity D) and 8-epi misoprostol (Pharm. Eur. impurity A).
    Water content by Karl Fischer determination was also done.
    Conclusions: The results of this research clearly show that
    Cytotec﷿ tablets suffered from a significant time dependent

    decrease in their technical-pharmaceutical characteristics and
    effectiveness if they come into contact with normal air because
    they were either taken out of their blister or kept in a blister
    which was damaged during cutting out some tablets. As early as
    the first day of storage, (with a maximum 48 hours after) in
    humidity and temperature corresponding to normal conditions in
    Europe the mass (+4.3%), the diameter (+1.2%), and the
    thickness (+4.8%) of the tablets increases, which is a sign of the
    swelling of the HPMC. However the hardness of the tablets
    decreases dramatically ()32.0%).
    The water dosage by Karl Fischer clearly shows that there is a
    rapid increase of water inside each tablet (+78.8% after 48 hours).
    This water penetration, associated with a storage temperature
    of 25 ﷿C speeds up the process of transforming the misoprostol
    into decomposition compounds. This leads to a decrease in
    Cytotec﷿’s active ingredient dosage ()5.1% after 48 hours) with
    related consequence on effectiveness. It is clear that under the
    current conditions of Cytotec﷿ use for MToP, cutting up the

    blister packs should not be recommended because the risk of
    damaging the heat formed alveoli around the tablets is too high
    (we have no data to make such a strong statement, even if it is
    true). This drastic change is observed in chemical composition
    after 6 hours only of storage and reaching a maximum on the 2nd
    day, which is the day the patient normally takes the tablet.
    If a Cytotec﷿ tablet is kept in a damaged blister (previously cut
    to deliver tablets to the previous patient) and stored in normal
    environmental conditions, its effectiveness will be likely seriously
    decreased for the next patient.
    This research concerns all uses of Cytotec﷿ for MToP and even
    when used as gastric protection, where the tablets, which can be
    divided into equal parts, can be taken by halves, the second half is
    stored in the open alveoli for an undetermined period.
    In conclusion, special caution must be taken in delivering
    Cytotec﷿ tablets.

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    The Evolution of Abortion Access in Europe: “Where is the 'European standard'

    Christian Fiala, MD, PhD, Gynmed clinic, Vienna, Austria


    Europe is far from united when it comes to abortion and a ‘European standard’ is not in sight.
    The historical timeline of legalizing abortion reveals the reluctance of most countries to do so, even  though abortion laws originated centuries ago in monarchies, dictatorships, and war-leading countries. In 1920, the former Soviet Union became the first modern nation to change its laws, with Portugal the most recent in 2007. But abortion remains illegal in Ireland, Poland, and Malta until today.

    Huge variations exist in allowable gestational limits (12 to 24 weeks) as well as other access restrictions like waiting periods (from none to 3, 5, or 7 days), written permission from two doctors, obligatory counselling, and more. All such restrictions are rooted in tradition and morality, with no scientific evidence of any benefit. But negative consequences are well-documented, such as women being forced to delay the procedure or travel long distances to find care. Consequently, countries with the easiest access to abortion have the lowest average gestational age at the abortion, and vice versa.

    Countries in Western Europe do provide coverage of abortion as part of universal healthcare, with the exception of Austria. However, the regulations vary widely, unlike the straightforward funding of procedures for other medical treatments.

    Given these huge underlying differences, it is no surprise that the frequency of abortions also varies widely between countries. The abortion rate is not linked to legal restrictions, but rather mirrors the use of effective contraception. Switzerland, The Netherlands, and Belgium lead the way, while most Eastern European countries, together with Sweden and the UK, sit at the bottom with abortion rates 3 times higher.

    Three main reasons explain the persistence of high abortion rates: lack of sexual education, difficulty in accessing contraceptives, and failure to use effective contraceptives regularly. The last aspect is a new phenomenon that explains the high abortion rate in Sweden.

    The slow historic process of women and couples gaining reproductive and sexual autonomy continues. Despite religious and conservative forces doing everything possible to prevent it, most people are determined to control their own lives, including their sexuality and reproduction. The most recent step forward was in Spain, where until last year women seeking abortion were intimidated by a requirement to obtain a psychiatric diagnosis, but can now receive an abortion on request. 

    In 2008 the Council of Europe issued a report, requesting all member states not only to "decriminalise abortion" but also to "guarantee women's effective exercise of their right to abortion and lift restrictions which hinder, de jure or de facto, access to safe abortion". This landmark report came decades after most countries had already legalised abortion, although all of them had left some restrictions in access. However for the first time in history a European political body has decided on a common European recommendation. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for all European countries to apply and to put into practice what seems to be a basic human right, self determination about one's own body.

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    Practical aspects of abortion


    Who is paying for abortions in Europe?

    A comparative study

    Christian Fiala, Sophie Hengl, Chantal Birman

    Christian Fiala, MD

    Gynmed Ambulatorium, Vienna

    Karolinska Institute, Division of Woman Child Health, Stockholm



    Introduction: Despite the steadily growing attention for abortion practices, little is known about the economic aspects of abortion. Although medical, psychological, political and legal issues have been recurrently raised within an international context, there clearly remains a lack of comparative data on the actual costs of abortions. The present study provides an overview on abortion costs throughout Europe including cost coverage and refund policies of national health care systems.


    Material and Methods: Data were collected with a questionnaire, which was sent out to abortion providers, gynecologists, hospitals, family planning centers, and health care organizations. Responses were processed qualitatively as well as descriptively. The costs of abortions in each country were interpreted relatively to the per capita indicator of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP); this allowed for more accurate comparisons of the results.


    Results:Abortion costs vary considerably throughout Europe. Even within the European Union, patients’ costs for the abortion range from € 0 to € 517,-. However most countries in Western Europe provide full or almost full refund to a majority of women. In contrast, most women in Eastern Europe as well as in Austria have to pay by themselves. And there are still a few countries where due to the persisting pressure of the Catholic church women have no access to abortion at all because of its illegal status: Ireland, Malta, Poland, and Portugal.


    Conclusion: We are currently engaged in the application of evidence-based medicine as well as in joint international efforts to further improve the health care systems. With regard to the access to abortion in Europe, the particularly heterogeneous economic conditions seem to reflect an “evidence-free zone”. There seems to be insufficient communication and cooperation among health care professionals regarding the practical aspects of abortion. It seems essential to recall that easy access to free contraception and abortion services is not a mere luxury; rather, it is the very basis for the high standards both of women’s reproductive health and generally, life in society.

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    Comprehensive pain management in early medical abortion – A follow up

    Christian Fiala
    Gynmed Clinic, Vienna, Austria

    Introduction: Medical abortion is increasingly used. But most women will experience some pain that requires intervention, while satisfaction with medical abortion may be limited by differences between women’s expectations of pain and their actual symptoms. Pain is still a neglected issue in many settings and even studies. So far, no evidence-based comprehensive pain management protocol has been published. Therefore, a group of experts has developed recommendations based on the following principles: avoidance of pain, non-pharmacological strategies and medical pain treatment.
    Background: Pain usually starts following administration of misoprostol. It is caused by contractions, with a peak around expulsion decreasing thereafter. Several associations between various factors and pain can be found. However, the predictive value of these factors is insufficient to define pain management for an individual woman.
    Avoidance of pain and non-pharmacological strategies are a cornerstone, including:
    ·      Facilitating access so that women can have the abortion at an early gestational age
    ·      Giving detailed information to women on what to expect during the procedure
    ·      Using the lowest effective dose of misoprostol
    ·      Taking misoprostol at home in a relaxing environment with a support person present
    Medical pain treatment: Treatment for pain in first trimester MToP should be systematic and women should have easy access to additional stepwise pain treatment. The limited data do not show prophylactic treatment to be superior compared with curative administration. However, experts’ recommendation is to give prophylactic analgesia using NSAIDs like ibuprofen. Pain treatment should be given stepwise using
    ·      1st line,: ibuprofen 400 to 800 mg
    ·      Use of Paracetamol alone is not recommended.
    ·      In addition, 2nd line analgesia for break through pain should be offered and be accessible easily and without delay, consisting of opioids like codeine, dihydrocodeine, or morphine.

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    Refusal to treat is not ‘Conscientious Objection’

    Christian Fiala
    Gynmed Clinic, Vienna, Austria

    Health Care Professional’s (HCP) refusal to treat or serve patients in Reproductive Health based on personal or religious reasons is frequently and misleadingly called ‘Conscientious Objection’ (‘CO’). In many countries ‘CO’ is lawful but almost always unregulated. HCP invoking ‘CO’ are misusing their position of power and trust but expecting to keep their job and salary, even if they deceive their patients and refuse to comply with part of their professional duty. ‘CO’ is mainly a phenomenon in public health services because private institutions rarely engage, pay and keep employees who do not fulfil all their professional duties. Consequently ‘CO’ is abuse of the public service and taxpayers money. The significant negative impact on women’s basic healthcare and human rights is well known and has been published repeatedly. The impact is strong especially in those countries where abortion and contraception are mainly provided by public institutions, whereas it is negligible in countries:
    -       with a predominantly private health care
    -       where the law obliges all hospitals to provide abortion or
    -       where ‘CO’ is not tolerated (Sweden, Finland, Iceland).

    The debate around  ‘CO’ is characterized by
    -       one side defending an eminence based position with faith based arguments giving HCP the right to refuse patients versus
    -       the other side arguing for an evidence based position with arguments based on facts and in favour of giving patients the right to a legal treatment for which they pay either directly or indirectly via a health care insurance.
    No country has regulated ‘CO’ in a way that would satisfy women and their need for basic medical care as well as HCP’s personal or religious beliefs. What is misleadingly called ‘CO’ is a remnant of a patriarchal social model and incompatible with evidence based medicine as well as current human rights standards.

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    Comprehensive pain management in medical abortion

    Christian Fiala

    Gynmed Clinic, Vienna, Austria -


    Management of pain during medical abortion has been given insufficient attention in clinical practice as well as in research. For example neither pain nor its treatment are systematically reported in clinical trials: a literature research on Pubmed revealed 1 459 publications on medical abortion from 1988 until 2011, but only 18 trials reported pain when comparing different treatment regimens using mifepristone and misoprostol in first trimester. This shortcoming reflects a neglect of the individual pain perception, yet pain remains a decisive factor for women in the decision making process of abortion. Comprehensive pain management in medical abortion should be based on the principles of general pain management:

    Avoidance of pain

    As a first step, measures should be taken to avoid pain as far as possible:

    * Unrestricted access to abortion would enable women to come as early as possible. Studies show that women’s experience of pain increases with gestational age. Reducing restrictions in access are therefore an important pain reduction measure.

    * Induction of contractions should be limited as far as possible. Therefore the lowest effective dosage of the prostaglandin should be given.

    * Free choice of the method is important because women report less pain when the choice of early medical abortion has been their own decision.

    * Full and accurate information should be given on what to expect and what to do in case of pain.

    * Women should feel relaxed and safe. Taking misoprostol at home is a pain reducing measure for many women.

    Non-medical pain treatment

    Classical hot water bottle, choosing the preferred body position and activity are effective aspect.

    Medical pain treatment

    * NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or diclofenac should be an integral part of pain management. They do not interfere with medical abortion treatment.

    * Codein or tramadol should be available as backup.

    Medication should be started as early as possible or even be given as prophylaxis before intake of misoprostol. (absorption of misoprostol is very fast and the first contractions can occur already within 15 minutes.) Providers should also make sure that patients have analgesics at home.

    Reference: Pain during medical abortion, the impact of the regimen: A neglected issue? A review.

    Fiala C, Cameron S, Bombas T, Parachini M, Saya L, Gemzell-Danielsson K.

    Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2014 Sep 2:1-17.

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    Pain management for up to 9 weeks medical abortion – An international survey among providers

    Christian Fiala1 ,8, Sharon Cameron2, Teresa Bombas3, Mirella Parachini4, Aubert Agostini5, Roberto Lertxundi6, Laurence Saya7, Kristina Gemzell-Danielsson8
    1Gynmed Clinic, Vienna, Austria, 2Chalmers Centre, NHS Lothian, Edinburgh, UK, 3Obstetric Service A, Centro Hospitalar e Universitário de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal, 4San Filippo Neri Hospital, Rome, Italy, 5Obstetric and Gynecology Department, La Conception hospital, Marseille, France, 6Clinica Euskalduna, Bilbao, Spain, 7Altius Pharma CS, Paris, France, 8Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Division of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden

    Introduction: There is no consensus about pain management for medical abortion (MToP) and evidence based guidelines give different recommendations. A survey among providers was done to analyse regimens being used in clinical routine.
    Methods: A questionnaire on details of pain management for first trimester MToP was developed by a group of experts. Health care providers all over the world offering MToP were invited to complete it through a FIAPAC dedicated website.
    Results: 283 health care professionals from all regions of the world completed the questionnaire: Europe 59%, North America 21%, Asia 8%, Australia and New Zealand 6%, Africa 4%, Latin America 2%. Most respondents (n= 267, 94%) reported analgesic prescription/provision for all women, either prophylactic for 82% (n=233) or upon request for 12% (n=34). WHO Step I analgesics (NSAIDs, paracetamol) were the most often used in both cases. A total of 16 (6%) respondents indicated that they never provided analgesics (or prescriptions for them). Only 24 providers (10%) started pain treatment after mifepristone. Female providers of abortion care were significantly more likely to prescribe systematic analgesia for patients than male providers (85% vs 74%, p<0.04). Most practitioners did not adapt the analgesic treatment to gestational age or according to place of intake of misoprostol (home or at the clinic/hospital). The majority of respondents (69%, n=195) did not conduct formal assessments of women’s pain.
    Conclusion: There is widespread variation in the assessment and management of pain during MToP, reflecting the lack of evidence based guidelines. This is a clear indication for improvement of using available and effective pain treatment to avoid unnecessary pain by women.

O.S. Filippov


Jane Fisher


Mary Fjerstadt

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    Decline in rates of serious infection following medical abortion regimen changes

    American practice and overwiew of the Clostridium infections

    Mary Fjerstad, N.P., M.H.S., Senior Clinical Advisor, Medical Abortion Ipas, USA

    Co-authors: James Trussell, Ph.D, Iriving Sivin, M.A., E. Steve Lichtenberg, M.D., M.P.H. and Vanessa

    Cullins, M.D., M.P.H, M.B.A.

    Background: From January 1, 2005 through June 30, 2008, we tracked 227,823 women having medical abortion at Planned Parenthood clinics in the U.S.  In the first time period, January 1, 2005 through March 31, 2006, the medical abortion regimen used was mifepristone 200 mg followed 24-48 hours later by misoprostol 800 mcg vaginally. There was not a standardized practice for testing or treatment of infection. During this period, among the Planned Parenthood data, the rate of serious infection was 0.93 per thousand medical abortions. Serious infection was defined as those requiring IV antibiotics in the emergency department, hospitalization, surgery necessary to remove an infected organ, or death. In early 2006, Planned Parenthood changed the route of misoprostol administration from vaginal to buccal and required either routine provision of antibiotics or universal screening for chlamydia and treatment of positive cases. In July 2007, Planned Parenthood required routine antibiotics as part of the medical abortion regimen.

    Methods: This was a retrospective analysis based on mandatory reports of number of medical abortions provided each quarter and reports of adverse events mandated by the Food and Drug Administration under Subpart H approval of mifepristone.

    Results: Rates of serious infection dropped significantly after the joint change to buccal administration of misoprostol and to either: 1) testing for sexually transmitted infection or 2) routine antibiotics. There was a 73% decline seen by instituting these changes to a rate of serious infection from 0.93 per 1000 abortions to 0.25 per thousand.  The subsequent change to routine provision of antibiotics led to a further significant reduction in the rate of serious infection- a 76% decline, from 0.25 per 1000 abortions to 0.06 per thousand.

    Conclusions: The maximum contribution of the change to the buccal route of misoprostol could be as high as 67% (if screen-and-treat were completely ineffective), and as low as 0%. It seems unlikely that screen-and-treat was completely ineffective, because at least some who test positive would have been treated in time to prevent serious infection. The maximum contribution of routine use of antibiotics could be as high as 100% (if the switch to buccal administration of misoprostol were completely ineffective) and no lower than 33%.

    The rate of serious infection after medical abortion declined by 93% after a change from vaginal to buccal administration of misoprostol combined with routine administration of antibiotics.

    Although there have been 9 deaths in North America; 8 caused by Clostridium sordellii and one caused by Clostridium perfringens, there have not been reports elsewhere in the world of infection-related mortality following medical abortion. 

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    Infection related mortality following medical abortion in North America
    Mary Fjerstadt, Clinical Training Director, Planned Parenthood
    Consortium of Abortion Providers, El Cajon, USA
    Among an estimated 560,000 women who have had medical abortion with mifepristone
    and misoprostol in North America, there have been 6 deaths related to infection:
    One death in Canada during clinical trials: C. sordellii
    Four deaths in California: C. sordellii
    One death in western U.S.- C. perfringens
    FDA and CDC held a meeting in May 2006 to discuss what is known and unknown about
    C. sordelii. Since the FDA/CDC meeting and the publication of the article in the New
    England Journal of Medicine about the C. sordellii deaths and mifepristone abortion,
    reports of C. sordellii following spontaneous abortion and childbirth have emerged.
    This presentation will discuss the conclusions of the FDA/CDC meeting, the clinical
    presentation of the cases, the hypotheses that have been put forward to explain why these
    infectious deaths have occurred, and the system of adverse event reporting in the U.S.
    and Planned Parenthood.

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    Outcomes of various medical abortion research have been difficult to compare.  Outcomes such as “effective”, “successful”, “complete” are defined differently in various studies or sometimes not defined. “Adverse events” similarly may not be reported or reported without clear definition.

    The goal of Medical Abortion Reporting of Efficacy (MARE) guidelines is to standardize early medical abortion efficacy reporting to facilitate comparison of outcomes between studies and to enhance data synthesis from different studies. This brief presentation will discuss the MARE guidelines for research methods. 
    Eligibility: the eligibility criteria for participants should be clearly stated, including the range of gestational age, the methods used to determine gestational age, and the conditions for ineligibility.
    Interventions: the study should state the medications used, including dose(s) and route(s) of administration.  The planned time interval (in hours) between medications should be stated.
    Outcomes: researchers should define primary and secondary outcome measures, including how and when they were assessed. 

    • Define successful medical abortion:  MARE guidelines propose that “successful” medical abortion should be defined as successful expulsion of the intrauterine pregnancy without need for surgical intervention. 
    • There are several categories of medical abortion failure:
      • Ongoing pregnancy. Continuing pregnancy should be defined as a viable pregnancy following treatment (differentiated from a retained gestational sac)
      • Incomplete abortion

    Heavy or problematic bleeding
    Assessment: Describe follow-up assessment used to determine outcome, for example, combination of ultrasound and physical exam, any pregnancy tests, symptoms checklist, etc. State the length of time planned to follow participants to determine outcomes. Reporting outcomes in a standardized manner will enhance data synthesis to produce evidence-based guidelines. 

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    Medical abortion with home administration of misoprostol
    Mary Fjerstadt, Clinical Training Director, Planned Parenthood
    Consortium of Abortion Providers, El Cajon, USA
    There are now over 250 Planned Parenthood clinics in the U.S. providing mifepristone
    medical abortion. Since initiation of medical abortion in 2000, women have received
    mifepristone in the clinic on Day One, and also receive misoprostol to self-administer at
    home. 230,000 women have received medical abortion with home administration of
    misoprostol. Women are given information about how to administer the medication, what
    to expect, and when they should call the medical provider.
    The presentation will discuss the efficacy of regimens used in the U.S., the rate of surgical
    intervention and the rate of emergency department visits. Most bleeding events requiring
    emergency treatment occur later in the process and would not have been prevented by
    using misoprostol in the clinic setting.

Ruth Fletcher

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    Travelling for Abortion:
    A Framework for Future
    Advocacy and Research This presentation will discuss the ways in which
    the Irish Crisis Pregnancy Programme (formerly
    the Crisis Pregnancy Agency) has developed
    public governance of cross-border abortion
    care. In doing so my aim is to think more about
    the limits and potential of abortion travelling
    as an option for women living with restrictive
    abortion regimes. The governance of abortion
    travelling does seem to have the negative effect
    of consolidating the non-development of local
    lawful abortion services. But the Programme
    has also had the effect of providing publicly
    subsidised support for women who travel,
    enabling the reporting of extra-territorial abortion
    rates as national abortion rates, and of promoting

    abortion after-care on return. These public health
    measures, limited as they are, provide evidence
    of some public support for abortion use and may
    provide future resources for tackling domestic
    resistance to abortion provision.
    In analysing the Crisis Pregnancy Agency’s
    administration of an outward flow for abortion care,
    I identify its 4 key technologies of governance as
    the non-development of local abortion services,
    provision of support for exit, reporting of extra-
    territorial abortion rates, and promotion of aftercare
    on return. These technologies illustrate how state
    agencies may actively mobilise ‘the peripheral’
    as they claim to address local needs through
    participation in the regulation of cross-border
    healthcare. In so doing they configure a conception
    of the peripheral that does not want to become
    core and participates in transnational networks on
    its own terms. Secondly, this peripheralism is not
    constituted by the core, but cultivates dependency
    on core provision of healthcare in other
    jurisdictions. Thirdly, this peripheralism comes into
    being by focusing on marginal healthcare services
    (information, counselling, check-ups) on the fringes
    of abortion provision.

Katharine Footman

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    After accessing safe abortion and post-abortion care (SA/PAC), clients often have an unmet need for family planning.  We used routine programme data to assess post-abortion family planning (PAFP) uptake and PAFP contraceptive methods in Kenya. 
    Methods: We analysed routine programme data for women who visited Marie Stopes centres for SA/PAC services in Kenya from 1 Jan 2015 to 31 Oct 2017. The proportion of women who chose PAFP (contraception on same day or within 14 days of SA/PAC) and uptake of contraceptive methods were examined by type of SA/PAC service (medical or surgical).  Data were analysed in Stata version 11, using chi-square tests to assess differences in proportions. 
    Results: Over the study period there were 46,531 SA/PAC services (26,084 medical and 20,447 surgical). The proportion medical SA/PAC increased from 43.8% in 2015 to 64.5% in 2017.  Almost two-thirds of clients were single (65.0%) and their age distribution was:  <15 years (0.3%), 15-19 (8.9%), 20 -24 (31.4%), 25 – 34 (45.8%), ≥35 years (13.6%).  Overall, 26,928 clients (59.8%) chose PAFP; this increased from 50.7% in 2015 to 66.5% in 2017; p<0.0001.  PAFP uptake did not vary by age, but was greater among women who had surgical vs medical SA/PAC (71.8% and 63.5% in 2017, respectively; p<0.0001).  Surgical SA/PAC clients were more likely to choose long acting or permanent methods (76.5% vs 64.2% among medical clients), with a greater proportion choosing intrauterine devices (37.3% vs 13.1% for medical clients).  
    Conclusions: PAFP uptake was consistently greater among women who had surgical SA/PAC, and uptake of long acting methods was higher among surgical SA/PAC clients. Women may prefer to complete the SA/PAC process before choosing a PAFP method, which may explain lower PAFP uptake among medical SA/PAC clients. Client-centred interventions are essential to ensure women receive family planning methods appropriate to their needs and preferences. 

Maria Francès- Kircz

Profession: RN (Registered Nurse)
Affiliation:  Bloemenhove Kliniek, Heemstede, Netherlands
  • 26 - 02 – 1941, the Hague, the Netherlands.
  • 1959 -1962 , Study of French language and litterature, Sorbonne - Paris.
  • RN since 1963, Worked in different dutch hospitals among others in a kidney dialyses centre.
  • Since 1980 engaged in the Bloemenhove Kliniek, Heemstede , the Netherlands. 
  • The Bloemenhove is one of the pioneer Centres for abortion in the Netherlands and was founded in 1972. The Centre is specialized in second trimester surgical abortions.
  • 60 % of the clients of this clinique come from different countries in Europe (and sometimes from outside Europe) where access to safe abortion care is difficult or not available.
  • In 1997, as a result of this experience she became one of the co- founders of Fiapac the International Federation of Associates in Abortion and Contraception.
  • From 1997 till 2008 Secretary General of Fiapac, Secretary from 2008 – 2010.
  • Member of the organizing committee of the Fiapac 2 year congresses.

Maria Frances – Kircz is married and has 3 children and 3 grandchildren.

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    Continuing abortion tourism in Europe


    Maria Francès  RN, co-founder and Secretary General of Fiapac

    Bloemenhove Kliniek - The Netherlands


    There have always been women with an unwanted pregnancy who were forced, by lack of possibilities in their own country, to cross borders, spend money and take risks in order to get what should be their right: a termination of their pregnancy, after all the most performed medical act in the world.

    Since the 1970 ‘s the countries – in western Europe - which receive most of these women are the UK, the Netherlands and since some years also Spain, where the implementation of the -  not so liberal -  law is quite loose.


    Although the number of “abortion tourists” has dramatically – in a positive sense – dropped since several countries have liberalized their law (in 1980 26.200 German women came to Holland for an abortion, in 2003 not more than 1254, in 1985 18.000 women came to the UK for an abortion, in 1996 only 66…) there is still a too large number of women who have to undertake this unfair, costly and emotional heavy trip. In the Bloemenhove clinic where I work, the yearly number of patients is about 3300, of which still 60% are coming from abroad. At the same time we may expect an increasing number of women from the eastern part of the European Union with al their specific - for instance financial -  problems.


    In this short intervention I would like to emphasize one part of the subject: the responsibility towards the woman in demand.

    It goes without saying that the first responsible is the woman herself. She has taken the decision not to continue her pregnancy – even if circumstances, financial, emotional or others, may have forced her to do so. After an appointment with her gynaecologist or her generalist, the most positive scenario is that this doctor will give her the address of a Centre or Clinic in the area where she lives to have the abortion as soon and as safe as possible, assuming that the term of her pregnancy is within the legal delay.

    Unfortunately this is not always the case, and if yes the doctor sends her to a hospital or clinic the waiting time is very often so long that the legal delay will be passed at the moment she will get an appointment.

    Then starts the search for a liable alternative, by experience I know that it takes some times more than 3 weeks to find an organization - like in France the MFPF – or a doctor who will cooperate to find a solution. The pregnancy in the mean time, is far beyond the legal delay in her country, the costs are doubled, the strain becomes unbearable.


    What if, at the moment of her  arrival in the Clinic of her choice, be it in the UK, Holland or Spain, she finds that her pregnancy has exceed the legal delay in the “guest” country, she happens to have a too low HB, ( Dutch hospitals are not prepared to give transfusions to foreigners unless there is danger of life),  there is a problem with her coagulation, she is HIV positive, she has Hepatitis or she has simply not sufficient money,( this is what we experience frequently in our Centre in Holland). Do we send her back home, do we take risks concerning her health or our finances?

    Who should we or she turn to: the organization in her home country? her gynaecologist?

    Who is responsible for this woman, this moral problem often weights heavy and gives a feeling of powerlessness.


    From these experiences one may get the tendency that country’s with a restrictive law give the impression to be more or less content at the idea that the neighbour will do the job and that consequently administrations do not move. I know that this negative thought is unfair towards all those who are risking their necks in order to improve the legal situation in their countries.


    No – the sad reality, to my opinion, is, that abortion will never be “Salonfähig”, will always be a political “ non-issue” , and will continue to depend on militant “fieldworkers”.


    I therefore urge that it is the duty of us, Fiapac members, to advocate the right of every woman to have a safe abortion, to help local organizations in reaching that goal and to develop teaching programs for doctors, nurses and social workers.

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    Since 1984, termination has been authorised on the decision of the woman
    alone No time limit is specified, but it is rare for 22 weeks of amenorrhoea to
    be passed. The procedures are carried out in private, non-profit-making
    centres, and are strictly registered.

Vasco Freire

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    And after the Referendum?

    Matilde Salta, Mara Carvalho, Vasco Freire (Portugal)

    Médicos pela Escolha – Doctors for Choice in Portugal

    In Portugal, in the past 11th of February of 2007, a certainty became evident: that an important majority of the Portuguese society identified clandestine, illegal abortion like a Public Health problem, legitimizing the right to safe abortion by the woman’s request, as part of a plenum exercise of Sexual and Reproductive Rights, Universal Human Rights.

    The new abortion law respects a person’s autonomy as an ethical principle, ensuring a free and universal access to safe abortion, a procedure performed by or with the help of qualified health care professionals. This new legal setting allows us to have concrete numbers about abortion, so that, by evaluating the numbers, we identify vulnerable groups, try to know its causes and consequences and provide the necessary support and interpret possible variations over the time, with longitudinal studies. 

    The DGS – Direcção Geral da Saúde (General Health Bureau in Portugal) predicted for the year after the implementation of the law 20000 abortions. In a study made by APF – Associação para o Planeamento da Família (the Family Planning Association) the number predicted was around 17000 abortions a year. Still awaiting annual results, in the first 5 months of law application, 6000 abortions were registered, and after eleven months the number was 12000, numbers a bit low when compared with the initial predictions. Why this happened and what can happen next are important discussions in terms of evaluating the effectiveness of the system and constantly, the level of information of the people.

    Regardless of if the next annual numbers corroborate or not the tendency of the first eleven months, it is necessary to stretch the experience in other European countries where abortion is legal for several years: clandestine abortion tends to become almost absent with the legalization, but it’s a process with several years of evolution; the diminishing of the abortion rate and the raising of the women/couples doing effective contraception (to avoid unwanted pregnancies) is fundamentally related with the implementation of an effective Sexual Education and Health Care policies that improve the access to Family Planning and modern Contraception. In Portugal, one year after the implementation of the law, it’s still urgent to:

    • Inform all the women that they have a new right of choice, an informed choice, with access to non-directive and specialized, support and care.
    • Implement consistent Sexual Education policies, with obvious medium/long term benefits in preventing other Public Health Problems, like all the STDs.

    Improve the Family Planning and abortion network. For example: creating conditions so that medical abortion is accessible to women in all the public primary care health services; equip the national health system with more human and technical means that answer not only to the needs of the women that want to interrupt their pregnancies, but also to the ones related to requests for definitive chirurgical contraceptive methods; all the hormonal contraceptives should be freely distributed.

Sarah Fried

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    Objective: About 26 million women refugees worldwide are affected by emergencies and face multiple sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) risks, requiring access to key services. Women in humanitarian emergency settings face increased exposure to unintended pregnancies while lacking access to SRHR services, including safe abortion.

    An overall growth in institutional capacity in SRHR in humanitarian settings has been reported, however with an exception for abortion-related services. Suggested reasons for this are legal uncertainties, health care providers’ personal moral/attitudes, and lack of quality commodities. However, research confirming or rejecting these hypotheses is lacking.

    The aim of this study was to gain a better understanding of health care providers’ readiness to provide safe abortion services in humanitarian settings, and to identify obstacles and facilitators in service provision.
    Methods: Ten individual in-depth interviews were conducted with health care providers with experience in working in humanitarian settings in Nepal and Pakistan. An inductive qualitative approach was used for analysis. 

    Preliminary results: Induced abortion is rarely prioritized or discussed in medical training. Health care providers are willing to provide safe abortions, but often have inadequate knowledge, poor access to updated guidelines, and lack equipment and supplies. Despite being legal, access to abortion is limited. Stigma surrounding abortions consist a barrier both for patients and health care providers, since abortion services often are frowned upon by surrounding communities. Health care providers’ personal values, and involvement of influential people, such as religious leaders, were mentioned as both barriers and facilitating factors.  

    Conclusions: Further training addressing caregivers’ knowledge, attitudes and values is needed. Information on local legal situations, support to health care providers, in-service training and updated guidelines are lacking. As research on this topic is scarce, this study is of high importance for humanitarian actors with mandate and aim to provide safe abortion services.

Olga F. Frolova


Ann Furedi

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    Developing a strategic approach to the threat to women’s health

    Ann Furedi (Great Britain)

    Bpas, Great Britain

    This session discusses the current strengths and weaknesses of the anti choice movement. It looks at the way their arguments have changed over recent years and the most effective ways to present the case for choice.

    The media often exaggerate the strength of the opposition to abortion and suggest that we are in a weaker position than we really are. It is tempting for pro-choice activists to go along with this incorrect analysis because highlighting the threat to legal reminds society not to take abortion access for granted. However, this can result in us focusing only on defending what we have and failing to campaign for what we might gain.

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    The law is strict in theory but flexible in its application. Two doctors must
    assess the physical or mental risk to the patient, and give their consent.
    Termination is allowed up to the 24th week of amenorrhoea.

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    We often voice our support for
    abortion because it is necessary.
    Necessary as a back-up to
    contraception, as a ‘second-chance’ method of
    birth-control when contraception fails or we fail to
    use it. And necessary when a pregnancy becomes
    no longer wanted - because something changes
    in our lives or about how we feel.
    We present abortion as an unfortunate fact of life.
    When our opponents claim abortion is evil, we often
    reply that it is a necessary evil. Our opponents take
    the moral stance, and we claim to be of the ‘real
    world’: pragmatic realists considering health risks
    and benefits and not what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.
    But there is a moral case to be put for freedom
    of choice. There is an argument that it is wrong
    to deny women that freedom – because to
    take away our capacity to make decisions for
    ourselves, is to take away what makes us human.
    The right to choose is more than a matter for
    women; it’s a matter for humanity.

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    The final session in Plenary 4 looks at how we can build a resilient cadre of abortion providers that is proud to offer women the means to control their fertility and will respond to some of the problems raised throughout the conference.




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    Safe abortion – a moral obligation: why is it so difficult to follow the evidence?

    Ann Furedi bpas, London, UK -

    We are used to the anti-choice movement adopting the moral high ground on abortion. Latterly, they have moved on from morals to make false claims that abortion damages women. We note that, increasingly, our opponents adopt what they perceive to be claims that appeal to feminists. Abortion, they say, damages women's reproductive health by triggering breast cancer and causing infertility. Abortion when a woman is pregnant after rape , is they say, a second violation. They assert that abortion is responsible for a wide range of mental illnesses. While we consider abortion to be a benefit to society, and especially to public health, our opponents claim the contrary arguing that abortion results in the brutalisation and coarsening of communities. In a world that increasingly looks to base its values on ‘evidence', it should be relatively straightforward to rebut these claims. The facts are on our side. Yet it remains difficult to convince people that: - in a legal, safe environment abortion does no harm - providing, and being provided with abortion, can be morally driven - support for reproductive choice must be a core principle for a world that believes in individual freedom. These principles will not be resolved solely by a battle of evidence - we need to win hearts as well as minds.