Human rights law and access to abortion

July 30, 2017

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The recently published Human Rights Watch Q&A on Human Rights Law and Access to Abortion discusses abortion as a human rights issue and the health consequences of unsafe abortions. It also shows that restrictive abortion policies do not reduce the rate of unsafe abortions, and highlights the positions of UN experts and agencies on the criminalization of abortion.

With regards to the health consequences of unsafe abortions, Human Rights Watch states:

“Unsafe abortions pose a high risk of complications. Recent evidence indicates that between 8 percent to 18 percent of maternal deaths around the world are due to unsafe abortion, and estimates of the number of abortion-related deaths in 2014 ranged from 22,500 to 44,000. Nearly all deaths and morbidity from unsafe abortion occur in countries where abortion is severely restricted. Lack of legal access to abortion often leads women to seek abortion services from unskilled providers or under unhygienic conditions, exposing them to a significant risk of death or injury.”

Access the web page at