Harm Reduction, Human Rights, and Access to Information on Safer Abortion

Document Type


Publication Date



Harm Reduction, Access to Medical Information, Medical Abortion, Misoprostol, Safer Use, Unsafe Abortion, Law Reform


A harm reduction and human rights approach, grounded in the principles of neutrality, humanism, and pragmatism, supports women's access to information on the safer self-use of misoprostol in diverse legal settings. Neutrality refers to a focus on the risks and harms of abortion rather than its legal or moral status. Humanism refers to the entitlement of all women to care and concern for their lives and health, to be treated with respect, worth, and dignity, and to the empowerment of women to participate in decision-making and political action. Pragmatism accepts the historical reality that women will engage in unsafe abortion, including self-induction, while addressing factors that render them vulnerable to this reality, and requires assessment of interventions to reduce abortion-related harms on evidence of their real rather than intended effect. Criminal law reform is a necessary conclusion to a harm reduction and human rights approach.



© 2012 International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics