Abortion Law, Policy and Service Delivery
7 October 2016


"This victory on abortion has empowered Polish women – we’ll never be the same."
(Krystyna Kacpura, 6 October 2016)
Our congratulations to the women of Poland for the brilliant decision to call a national strike on 3 October, in which between 30,000 and 100,000 people, according to different reports, took to the streets to protest the threatened ban on abortion.
According to
Maritime First News, state-run radio in Poland reported that on 4 October Prime Minister Beata Szydlo had distanced the government from the bill because of the strike. They quoted her as saying at a news conference : “I want to state very clearly that the PiS [Law and Justice] government is not working on any legislation changing the rules on abortion in Poland.”

Polish Vice Minister, Jarosław Gowin, a devout Catholic, was also quoted by the BBC as saying on 4 October that the nationwide protest on Monday had given the government “food for thought”. He was also reported as saying that he wanted to calm those afraid that abortion could be completely banned in Poland. However, this is how his statement was reported in English: “Abortion will certainly not be banned when the woman is the victim of rape or if her life or health is in danger” and that the protests around the country had "taught [the government] humility”.

He did not mention what would happen with abortion on grounds of fetal abnormality. Whether that was a significant omission is unclear.

What happened was a decision to reject the bill completely. In the most recent news reports in English, which had stopped by the end of the day on 6 October, the BBC reported that the lower house of the parliament had indeed voted the Stop Abortion bill down by a large majority – 352 to 58. In their report after the vote, the Guardian quotes Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of PiS party, as saying to the parliament: “PiS continues to back the protection of life. And it will continue to take action in this respect, but it will be considered action.”

Here is a brilliant set of photographs and quotes of women who went on strike on Monday, 3 October 2016...



Nepal Safe Abortion logo and used in a clinic poster

Nepal's Ministry of Health close to finalising free abortion guideline

More than a year after announcing that abortion would be available free of cost, the government of Nepal has set aside Rs 32 million for the fiscal year 2016-17 to start the service. Dr RP Bichha, chief of the Family Health Division, Ministry of Health, said that the Ministry are in the final phase of completing the guidelines for providing these services, which has taken about 15 months. Preparation included collecting data on the number of abortion services seekers. "Once it is complete, we will pass it to Ministry of Finance; after that, we will be able to start the service. It might take around two to three more weeks.” 

Lack of access to safe abortion remains one of the top three reasons for mortality in women in Nepal, in spite of a comprehensive abortion policy introduced in 2003, after the law was reformed in 2002 and even though reproductive health rights are enshrined as a fundamental right of women in the Constitution. A survey done by Center for Research on Environment Health and Population Activities (CREHPA) in 2014 showed that 21 percent of the needy women had not been able to have an abortion due to lack of money...




Cost-effectiveness review that would allow the cost of medical abortion pills to be covered by provinces to go ahead
Celopharma Inc, the company that is bringing the combined abortion pill package of mifepristone+misoprostol to Canada is going ahead with a crucial cost-effectiveness review by the Common Drug Review (CDR) that could clear the way for provincial drug plans to cover the CAN $300 cost of the medication, according to Health Canada.
The Common Drug Review advises every province except Quebec on which new drugs they should reimburse for patients who qualify. Quebec, which has a separate, free process to assess the cost-effectiveness of "new" drugs, is reviewing Mifegymiso.

Dawn Fowler, the Canadian director of the National Abortion Federation, called the company’s new plans “great news.” If the provinces do opt to add Mifegymiso to their formularies – the lists of drugs they cover for all patients in hospitals and for certain patients outside hospitals – access to medical abortion could increase significantly, she said...



Dr Kathleen McNamee, Family Planning Victoria, one of about 1,200 doctors
trained to prescribe medical abortion drugs. Photo: Eddie Jim

Complicated abortion laws will drive women to buy pills online
A review of a journal article published on 28 September 2016 points out that women in Australia face serious barriers to safe, affordable abortions with medical abortion pills, while the pills for a home abortion are easy to find on Facebook.
The journal article, written by Lecturer in the Department of Business Law and Taxation Anne O'Rourke at Monash University, Senior Research Fellow Dr Suzanne Belton at the Graduate School of Health Practice of Charles Darwin University, and Research Associate Ea Mulligan at Flinders University Law School, was published online in the Journal of Law and Medicine 2016;24(October). It argues that because every state and territory of Australia has different, complicated abortion laws, and because the Federal Government has bogged down abortion drugs in red tape, many doctors are reluctant to provide medical abortion pills.

The abstract of the article says: "the negligible medical risks associated with mifepristone do not justify the restrictive regulatory measures imposed on medical practitioners". The review article states: "In 2013, [mifepristone] was listed at just $12 on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. However, since then, access has become bogged down by processes that do not apply to other drugs, such as doctors needing permission for each prescription, and the price is generally hundreds of dollars."...



Making it an offence to knowingly provide false information about abortion

During the last week of September 2016, the French Minister for Families, Childhood and Women's Rights Laurence Rossignol tabled a regulation as part of a bill on equality and citizenship in the French Senate that aimed to make it an offence for websites to convey "false allegations or give a distorted presentation of information on the nature and consequences of an abortion, in order to mislead with a deterrent purpose" (un amendement pour élargir le délit d'entrave à l'IVG à l'expression numérique. Il prévoirait d'introduire un délit contre les sites qui véhiculent «des allégations ou une présentation faussées, pour induire en erreur dans un but dissuasif sur la nature et les conséquences d'une IVG»).

The amendment was not approved, but it raises bigger questions about the ethics of what has become a widespread practice by many in the anti-abortion movement, not just on websites but also in the street when who women are entering/leaving an abortion clinic are accosted by anti-abortion hecklers and also when they visit what are sometimes called crisis pregnancy centres looking for help to have an abortion...

We held off publishing more reports today as some we were expecting have not yet arrived. We will publish at least one more newsletter next week with reports once those have arrived
and of course others that come in too.
Please keep sending them in to: !!!

Editor: Marge Berer

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