WHO strives for a world where all women’s and men’s rights to enjoy sexual and reproductive health are promoted and protected, and all women and men, including adolescents and those who are underserved or marginalized, have access to sexual and reproductive health information and services. Access expressed through laws, policies, and guidelines is a key component of the enabling environment for safe abortion. However, abortion laws and policies can be punitive or protective; specific or non-specific; confusing and even contradictory at times, all of which may exacerbate a chilling effect on those who seek, provide or advocate for access to services.
Launched in June 2017, the Global Abortion Policies Database (GAPD) contains abortion laws, policies, standards and guidelines for UN and WHO Member States designed to strengthen global efforts to eliminate unsafe abortion by facilitating comparative analyses of countries’ abortion laws and policies. The abortion laws, policies, and guidelines within the GAPD are juxtaposed to information and recommendations from WHO safe abortion guidance, national sexual and reproductive health indicators, and UN human rights bodies’ guidance to countries on abortion.
This presentation provides a brief overview of the GAPD, an analysis of selected countries, and demonstrates the vagueness and complexities that exist in laws and policies.