Best practice in comprehensive abortion care

Each year, 22 million unsafe abortions are estimated to take place, resulting in the death of approximately 47000 women. Some 5 million women suffer injury as a result of complications due to unsafe abortion, often leading to chronic disability. Abortion need not be unsafe. Safe abortion should be and can be available and accessible for all women, to the full extent that the law allows. Even in countries where legal abortion is severely restricted, in circumstances where it is permitted, such as to save the life of the woman, it should always be done safely.

Abortion is not a complex procedure. A range of providers, including nurses and midwives, have been shown to be competent to deliver abortion services safely in a number of settings. As with many other medical procedures, adherence to best practice standards will ensure that the most effective and the safest services are delivered. This Best Practice Paper is designed to be used on a daily basis by healthcare workers who are responsible for delivering pre-abortion counselling and assessment, and abortion and post-abortion care services including post-abortion contraception.

All aspects of abortion care should be delivered in a respectful and sensitive manner that recognises women as decision makers.

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