11 Jul 2018

Abortion and Reproductive Justice Conference 3

The third Iteration of the Abortion and Reproductive Justice Conference has so far been enlightening, educational, and a valuable opportunity to engage with multiple stakeholders with vested interests in access to, perceptions of, and advocacy around Termination of Pregnancy. Considering the nature of the tracks at the ARJ Conference, there has been opportunity to engage with abortion on multiple levels and consider how we can work together to make abortion more accessible through advocacy, networking, info-sharing and movement strengthening.

The  Sex Rights Africa Network’s delegate has spent much of the conference in the International Campaign For Womens Right To Safe Abortion sessions, dealing with issues relating to national contexts for the decriminalisation of abortion. One of the most important points that came out of the session was the fact that abortion is still not recognised as a right or a choice, and that people in power (who are often men) feel obliged to limit women’s rights to make decisions about their bodies – the consequence of this is the preventable deaths of thousands of women. This happens whether abortion is legal or illegal because of poor policy implementation and lack of training or providers, and the persistence of patriarchal, cultural and religious mores.

In relation to our work with the Sex Rights Africa Network, the conference has reinforced the importance of solidarity, sharing information, sharing strategies, and engaging in joint advocacy and campaigning, as well as the value of building networks across sectors – civil society, activists, researchers, policy makers, academics, medical professionals so that all the evidence and all the arguments that support and make the case for safe abortion incontrovertible can be brought together and used effectively. This conference presents an opportunity for all sectors involved to learn about the rights arguments, the public health argument, the cost arguments, as well as develop women-centered approaches to provision of abortion. Hypocrisy and double standards have been raised regarding the provision of abortion services and other medical services, which allows advocates for safe abortion to provide parallels between conscientious objection and other real life scenarios.