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Abortion Policy Summary

MSF responds to the life-preserving needs of people. As a medical-humanitarian organisation working in contexts where the population is threatened, deprived of healthcare and where mortality is high, MSF can make access to safe abortion care available – a measure that can dramatically reduce maternal mortality.

Our own field experience is at the origin of this commitment. Every day we see women dying from consequences of unsafe abortion, knowing that these deaths could have been prevented. Termination can either be provided by MSF staff or MSF can ensure that the woman receives the necessary care from a quality provider that MSF has validated for this purpose.

MSF’s International Council (IC) passed a resolution to this effect in 2004, as a formal step in recognising the needs, and establishing a framework to support staff and patients. “The availability of safe abortion should be integrated as a part of reproductive health care in all contexts where it is relevant … MSF’s role in termination of pregnancy must be based on the medical and human needs of our patients.”

Concerned by the limited scope of action, in 2012 the International Board (IB) stated that “unsafe abortion and unwanted pregnancy contribute significantly to the burden of ill health, suffering and maternal mortality in contexts where we work.” Not responding to requests for termination of pregnancy means recognising that women and girls may have to opt for a potentially unsafe alternative to address their need – this is unacceptable for a medical organisation.

For more information about MSF’s abortion policy, please contact recruitment@joburg.msf.org.

Find out more about about MSF's safe abortion programmes