March 02, 2017

NEW YORK, MARCH 2, 2017—As the “She Decides” initiative formally kicks off in Brussels today, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is stressing the importance of access to reproductive health services like safe abortions, a critical medical need for women and girls across the world. This global initiative is in direct response to the reinstatement of the US government’s Mexico City Policy, which endangers the lives of women and could encourage unsafe abortions. Unsafe abortion is one of the five main causes of maternal mortality worldwide.

“Time and again, young women are brought to MSF’s emergency rooms bleeding to death because they tried to terminate their pregnancy in an unsafe way. Time and again, my MSF colleagues work to repair internal injuries due to botched abortions that are just as ghastly as war wounds. We may save the life of the woman or girl, but she may forever lose the possibility of carrying a child.

“Making safe medical care available to women and girls who request a termination of pregnancy prevents suffering and death resulting from unsafe procedures. Some women will end their pregnancies no matter what the risk or barrier. Unsafe abortion is the only major cause of maternal mortality that is entirely preventable.”

—Catrin Schulte-Hillen, MSF’s maternal health group leader

MSF, which provides contraceptive and safe abortion care as part of its response to women’s and girls’ health needs, is more than 97 percent privately funded and will not be directly affected by the global gag rule or benefit from the “She Decides” initiative.