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Int'l groups call on Ja for safe abortion policies

Saturday, March 27, 2010    

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Dear Editor,

This is an open letter to Minister of Health and Chairman of the Joint Select Committee Reviewing the Abortion Policy Review Report, Rudyard Spencer.

We, the undersigned international organisations working to promote the human rights and health of women, are writing to express our support for you and the members of the Joint Select Committee as you continue reviewing the recommendations of the Abortion Policy Review Advisory Group. We stand firmly behind the recommendations of the advisory group. These recommendations show a strong commitment by the Government of Jamaica to improve the health, save the lives, and support the human rights of Jamaican women.

Unsafe abortion is a silent and persistent pandemic. Without access to safe services, nearly 70,000 women die annually and an estimated five million are hospitalised due to the complications of unsafe abortion. The overwhelming burden of these deaths and injuries falls on poor women living in the developing world where 97 per cent of unsafe abortions take place. Access to abortion services is particularly important for women and girls who are victims of violence. Many women who are victims of sexual violence become pregnant as a result and wish to terminate their pregnancies. Unsafe abortion is not only a public health problem. It also represents a fundamental social injustice and violation of women's human rights. Poor and otherwise marginalised women - regardless of their nationality - are more likely than wealthier women to experience an unsafe abortion and to suffer serious health consequences. The persistence of unsafe abortion is closely linked with poverty through a number of pathways at the individual health system, and societal levels. By helping women to safeguard their health and manage their fertility, safe abortion enhances women's ability to participate in educational and employment opportunities, maintain their productivity, and contribute to their families and communities. We support policies that promote access to high-quality care for women who have complications from unsafe abortion, greater access to safe abortion and the decriminalisation of the procedure. We commend the Abortion Policy Review Advisory Group and the Joint Select Committee on their important work toward improving the lives of women in Jamaica. We sincerely hope that Jamaica can join the growing group of nations who have reformed their antiquated and deadly abortion laws to promote health, protect human rights and save women's lives.

On behalf of women and girls around the world, we thank you for your leadership and commitment.

Asia Pacific Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights; ASPIRE (Trinidad and Tobago); Association for Women's Rights in Development; Catholics for Choice (USA);

Centre for Equality Advancement (Lithuania); Centre for Reproductive Rights (USA);

Comissão de Cidadania e Reprodução (Brazil); ddeser - Red por los derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos (Mexico); DAWN Caribbean; Equidad de Género, Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia (Mexico); Family Care International (USA); Foro de Mujeres y Políticas de Población (Mexico);

French Family Planning Movement (France); International Planned Parenthood Federation (Western Hemisphere Region); International Women's Health Coalition (USA);

Italian Association for Women in Development AIDOS (Italy); Ipas (USA);

Margaret Sanger Centre International: Planned Parenthood of New York City;

Rosalind Petchesky, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Hunter College and the Graduate Centre, City University of New York (USA); Pamela D Bridgewater, Professor of Law, American University, Washington College of Law (USA); Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States; Sexuality Policy Watch; Women for Women's Human Rights - New Ways (Turkey); Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights; Women's Link Worldwide (Spain); Women on Waves (The Netherlands); World Population Foundation (The Netherlands); Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights.

c/o Ipas, North Carolina, USA, 27510

ipas@ipas.org

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