Abortion in a Time of Climate Change – PART II

abortion in climate crisis, with healthy land and burning earth juxtaposed

Climate change and sexual and reproductive health, including abortion, are intricately linked. The impact of climate change, such as extreme weather events, food and water scarcity, and displacement, directly affects sexual and reproductive health by increasing health risks, disrupting access to health-care services, and diminishing reproductive rights. Moreover, environmental degradation and pollution lead to adverse reproductive outcomes, including infertility and birth defects.

You can read all about this connection between climate change and sexual and reproductive health in the first part of this blog series here. In this second part, we will zoom into abortion and take a look at how climate change impacts abortion decisions and services.

Climate Change and Abortion

When climate change disrupts access to safe abortion services, it forces people to resort to unsafe practices. This includes getting an abortion from unlicensed or clandestine providers operating outside the legal health-care system or self-inducing abortion by using harmful substances and objects. Unsafe abortion is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality globally – 4.7–13.2% of maternal deaths are attributed to unsafe abortion. People who undergo an unsafe abortion face severe health risks, such as an incomplete abortion (failure to remove or expel all pregnancy tissue from the uterus); hemorrhage (heavy bleeding); infection; and damage to the genital tract and internal organs. To reduce these risks and safeguard the health and well-being of pregnant individuals, it is vital to ensure access to safe abortion services.

Aside from the high personal danger, unsafe abortion also severely burdens the existing health-care systems. Medical personnel have to manage complications caused by unsafe abortion practices and perform surgeries, provide medications, and give follow-up care. If we ensure safe and legal abortion services, we protect public health and promote the well-being of communities, which are already at risk of climate-related challenges. This is particularly important in addressing socioeconomic disparities, as both lack of access to safe abortions and climate change disproportionately affect marginalized and low-income individuals, exacerbating existing social and economic inequalities.

Climate change and all the chaos that comes with it also hurts the reproductive rights and autonomy of people. Without access to accurate information; products, such as contraception and abortion pills; and services, such as abortion clinics and emergency centers, sexual and reproductive rights are greatly hindered and our autonomy to make decisions that are best for us are compromised. Disruption and violence that follow climate-induced disasters make discrimination and coercion all the more possible. Hence, upholding reproductive autonomy is not only a matter of gender equality and human rights but of climate justice.

Furthermore, climate change and the lack of access to contraception and safe abortion make it difficult to prevent unintended pregnancies. Nearly half of all pregnancies, totalling 121 million each year, throughout the world, are unintended and around 61% of all these unintended pregnancies end in abortion. When people don’t have access to contraception and safe abortion, they no longer have control over the most life-altering reproductive choice: whether or not to become pregnant. Ensuring access to safe abortion services is crucial to allow people to have this choice and contributes to better outcomes for individuals, families, and our communities.


If you would like to learn more about abortion – what the procedure is like, what the legal requirements are, and what services you can access – you can get in touch with us at info@safe2choose.org or start a live chat on our website: safe2choose.org.

At safe2choose, we provide information and online counseling to those who want an abortion with pills or a surgical abortion. We are also connected to safe and reliable abortion providers and refer people to them when needed. As part of our mission to make safe abortion accessible to everyone around the world, our team of multilingual counselors, medical doctors and experts in the field of public health and international development work together to support people in making their own decisions regarding their bodies and reproductive health.