New WHO Guidance Calls for the Full Decriminalization of Abortion Worldwide
The WHO issued a 200-page document last Wednesday that replaces its previous guidance from 2012. The updated guidance offers recommendations for improved abortion care for women and girls, including telemedicine abortions.
"Being able to obtain [a] safe abortion is a crucial part of health care," Craig Lissner, acting Director for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at WHO, said in a statement.
"Nearly every death and injury that results from [an] unsafe abortion is entirely preventable. That's why we recommend women and girls can access abortion and family planning services when they need them."
The WHO, established in 1948, contended in the new guidance that placing restrictions on abortion access results in unsafe abortions. According to The Christian Post, the guidance includes a chapter calling for abortion to "be fully decriminalized" and barriers to abortion access to be removed.
Examples of barriers to abortion include the requirement of approval from institutions and partners or family members, mandatory waiting times and limits on when abortions can take place during pregnancy. "It's vital that an abortion is safe in medical terms," Dr. Bela Ganatra, Head of WHO's Prevention of Unsafe Abortion Unit, said.
"But that's not enough on its own. As with any other health services, abortion care needs to respect the decisions and needs of women and girls, ensuring that they are treated with dignity and without stigma or judgment," she continued. "No one should be exposed to abuse or harms like being reported to the police or put in jail because they have sought or provided abortion care."
The guidance's release comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on a case regarding Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban, which could result in the overturning of Roe V Wade should the court uphold the ban.