January 5, 2016

Change Starts With Us: Asia Safe Abortion Partnership

Mama Cash grantee Asia Safe Abortion Partnership reflects on the ingredients for impact

Mama Cash’s grantee partners are doing amazing work for women, girls, and trans people in their communities and around the world. In an eleven part series, we will share some of these inspiring stories of change. This is the story of Asia Safe Abortion Partnership.

Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) is a regional network of individuals and organisations working for sexual and reproductive health and rights. Founded in 2008, ASAP aims to promote women’s sexual and reproductive rights and health in Asia by reducing unsafe abortion and by promoting access to comprehensive safe abortion services. Its members include doctors, nurses, midwives, lawyers, and researchers, among others.

From a founding group of 37, ASAP has grown to include active members in more than a dozen countries across South and South East Asia, the Pacific, and the Middle East. The network facilitates information exchange, joint learning, strategic thinking and planning, and regional and international advocacy among its members. ASAP also works to build its members’ capacity in the areas of advocacy, documentation, research, and service delivery.

The Challenge

Every day thousands of Asian women seek help from unskilled providers to end unplanned pregnancies. Forty per cent of abortions performed in Asia are unsafe; in South Central Asia, South East Asia and Western Asia the figure is as high as sixty-five.[1] According to the World Health Organisation, unsafe abortion claims the lives of 17,000 women in Asia each year.[2] Abortion is illegal or severely restricted in many countries in Asia, and the stigma attached to it makes it all the more inaccessible.[3] This is the case for both surgical abortion and abortion induced with the use of drugs, referred to as medical abortion. Ironically, Asian countries are among the largest producers of medical abortion drugs, yet public health programmes still do not provide them and many health professionals lack knowledge about their use.

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Check out ASAP’s video on unplanned pregnancies and access to safe abortion:

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