New WHO global abortion guidelines

Cover of WHO abortion guidelines

Today the World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched an updated resource on abortion which replaces all previous WHO guidelines on abortion care.

Based on the latest scientific evidence, these guidelines bring together over 50 recommendations covering clinical practice, health service delivery, and legal and policy interventions to support quality abortion care.

The guidelines make strong recommendations for the full decriminalization of abortion, and the availability of abortion on request, without barriers such as waiting periods and time limits.

The guidelines do not just call for abortions to be safe, but also stress the importance of quality abortion care that is “effective, efficient, accessible, acceptable/patient centred, equitable and safe”.

There is a recommendation to expand abortion provision to a range of health care providers (such as community health workers, pharmacists, nurses and midwives). Self-management of medical abortion is also included in the recommendations, meaning that people can safely take medications outside of a clinical setting, provided they have the information and support they need.

For the first time, the guidelines also include recommendations for use where appropriate of telemedicine for contraception and abortion.

“We are delighted to see the new WHO abortion guidelines make such a strong case for removing all criminal sanctions and unnecessary barriers to safe, quality abortion services. These updated guidelines will be of great use to SAAF grantee partners around the world, whether they are providing abortion care, information, or advocating for better access to safe abortion.”

Maïté Matos Ichaso, Director of SAAF

You can find the full WHO abortion guidelines here.

You can read WHO’s press release here.

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