Hotline for safe abortion in Pakistan
A coalition of Pakistani women’s organisations has launched a safe abortion hotline with the support of the Dutch organisation Women on Waves and Mama Cash grantee the Asia Safe Abortion Partnership. Women can call the hotline for practical information about sexual and reproductive health in general and about the use of misoprostol, a drug that can be used to induce miscarriage early in pregnancy.
Misoprostol can prevent heavy bleeding after giving birth and can be used as a safe and effective way to terminate a pregnancy if taken during the first 9 weeks of pregnancy. It is far safer than the unsafe surgical or traditional methods that women will use when desperately trying to end an unwanted pregnancy.
Pakistan has restrictive abortion laws and a high level of maternal mortality. Abortion is permitted only to save a woman's life, to preserve her health and in cases of rape. Most of the 890,000 abortions performed every year happen outside of the health system, often performed in unsafe conditions.
More than 30,000 women die due to complications related to pregnancy. Nearly 90% of women deliver at home in the absence of skilled birth attendants. And only 1 in 20 women reaches emergency obstetric care.
An estimated 11-15% of maternal mortality in Pakistan is caused by unsafe abortions. The taboos around abortion limit access of women to health care services. This results in unsafe abortions, carried out in unhygienic conditions and using dangerous methods. Every year 197.000 women are hospitalized because of complications from unsafe abortions.
More than half of maternal mortality caused by post partum hemorrhage and unsafe abortion can be prevented if women have the right information and access to misoprostol.
This is the only hotline of its kind in Asia, following in the footsteps of successful hotlines in Latin America. The hotline will put life-saving information directly into the hands of the women who need it. Access to safe abortion is a key issue for Mama Cash and we’re proud to support this initiative with a 37,400 euro grant.