The Center for Reproductive Rights Asia team is playing a significant role this month at Safe Abortion Dialogue-Asia, a virtual conference focused on developing strategies to reduce barriers and expand access to safe abortion care in the region.
The Center is one of the co-organizers of the event, which is led by Ipas, a Center’s partner, and supported by SIDA and Packard Foundation. Designed for organizations advocating to advance access to safe abortion care in the region, Safe Abortion Dialogue-Asia encourages collaboration and knowledge-building by participants at the regional and national levels.
“The Center has been part of the broader movement for abortion advocacy in Asia for almost two decades, and this dialogue is crucial to addressing abortion as a health, human rights, reproductive justice, and gender equality issue–especially amid the regression and opposition we’re facing,” said Jihan Jacob, the Center’s Senior Legal Adviser for Asia. “We look forward to more opportunities for meaningful and strategic partnerships and collaboration to advance sexual and reproductive rights including abortion rights for all.”
Jacob spoke at “Combatting Opposition, Barriers, and Threats: Evidence from the Ground,” a discussion on June 4 highlighting the challenges and initiatives of safe abortion rights advocates in Asia. The session featured panelists from Afghanistan, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, and the Philippines who presented case studies about how these barriers and opposition to abortion are manifested at the country level. At the two-hour session, safe abortion advocates also collaborated on strategies to counter the opposition and break down the barriers to safe abortion rights.
On June 11, Prabina Bajracharya, the Center’s Capacity Building Manager for Asia, co-moderated “Decriminalization of Abortion.” This two-hour virtual dialogue addressed the harmful consequences of criminalization of abortion and strategies to advance abortion rights and law reforms, including through decriminalization and the removal of abortion regulations from States’ penal codes, as well as movement building. Experts from India, Nepal, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Thailand, and South Korea shared successful examples from their countries and lessons learned. The session was co-hosted by the Center, CREA, and Ipas in collaboration with IPPF.
“The fundamental rights upon which access to safe abortion is grounded are protected under numerous international and regional human rights treaties and constitutions in Asia. Everyone has the right to accessible, high-quality abortion care, and no one should be criminalized for seeking, providing, or accessing abortion services., stated Prabina Bajracharya. “To achieve this in practice, it is important that we, as advocates, learn from each other’s experiences and be in solidarity as we all work towards repealing criminal laws on abortion and removing discriminatory barriers to abortion access for all pregnant persons.”
(A recent Center report, “Decriminalization of Abortion in Nepal: Imperative to Uphold Women’s Rights,” highlights the continued criminalization of women seeking abortion despite progressive legislation in Nepal that has been in effect since 2018. Read the report here.)
Safe Abortion Dialogue-Asia continues weekly through July 9 with sessions on Adolescent Access and Youth-Led Efforts, Self-Managed Abortion and Telehealth, Regional Collaboration, and The Fundraising Landscape. The Center will be collaborating and actively participating in all of the remaining sessions.
About the Center’s Asia Program
For nearly 20 years, the Center has worked in Asia to advance reproductive rights laws and policies, improve access to reproductive health care, and advance sexual and reproductive health and rights. Focusing on countries such as India, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines, the Center works to build and strengthen local partnerships, networks, and alliances to address issues such as child marriage, maternal health, contraception, rights of surrogates, and more.