Today, December 10th, is Human Rights Day. It commemorates the day on which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The first article of this important document stated that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”, but almost 70 years later, women are still fighting for that recognition.
safe2choose works diligently to provide access to safe abortion globally, because we know that when a woman is denied the right to make decisions about her own life, a wide range of fundamental rights, protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements, are threatened and violated.
Lack of access to safe abortion care hurts women all over the world, endangering their right to life and health. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that every year, 47,000 women die as a result of unsafe abortions, and 8 million others suffer various kinds of complications. Laws that restrict or prohibit abortion have not stopped women from aborting; they have only forced women to gamble their lives in the hands of unqualified people using non-scientific methods, or have left women to resort to unsafe practices at home.
Health is defined by WHO as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Barriers to safe abortion violate our right to non-discrimination and equality. If we are all equal and holders of the same rights, denying access to a health care procedure such as abortion is a form of discrimination against women, because only people with a uterus need it.
Young, rural and low-income women are the most vulnerable when they cannot exercise the right to abortion, and are at higher risk of suffering the health consequences of unsafe abortions. By ignoring this, governments and society are perpetuating and accentuating inequality, and social and economic injustice. It is imperative that all women are recognized as full human beings, entitled to all human rights, because they are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. Denying the exercise of this one reproductive and sexual right, is denying other human rights as well. If we acknowledge that women’s rights are human rights, we can no longer undermine their right to abortion, because we will be stepping on their very humanity.
safe2choose knows that women are good decision-makers. We trust in their capacity to decide regarding their bodies, their health, and their lives, and even if their local legislators do not, we will be here to support their right to safe abortion.
By Bárbara Hernández, a feminist activist, passionate about women’s rights and mental health awareness. As safe2choose’s counsellor, Barbara helps women all over the world access information on safe abortion globally.
 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1, 6 December 2015, http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html
 Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June, 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948, 6 December 2015, http://www.who.int/about/definition/en/print.html
 Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women, (CEDAW), Article 1, 6 December 2015, http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/text/econvention.htm#article5,