USAID and Key Health Organizations Sign Consensus Statement on Family Planning as a Key Component of Post Abortion Care

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, October 21, 2009
USAID Press Office

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), together with the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), and the International Council of Nurses (ICN), has issued a consensus statement about the importance of family planning as a key component of post abortion care. The policy statement underscores the commitment of these organizations to ensuring their members advocate for high-quality post abortion family planning counseling and services. It is expected to set the standard for all post abortion care and will bring improvements to both family planning and maternal health care.

"Universal access to post abortion and postpartum family planning makes good sense," said Dr. Scott Radloff, director of USAID's Office of Population/Reproductive Health. "It must be considered as an important element of our care based on the clear evidence that family planning and pregnancy spacing not only reduce unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion but also lower morbidity and mortality of women, neonates, infants, and children. Post abortion care is essential to good obstetric care and is an important element in integrated family planning/maternal and child health services for women."

Despite the high death toll from complications from abortion - unsafe abortion accounts for 13 percent of maternal deaths worldwide and as much as 25 percent in some countries, and some 31 million women have spontaneous abortions each year - many women do not receive immediate post abortion family planning services, even though they are at risk of pregnancy within two to three weeks. While many of these women desire to replace the pregnancy they have lost, health experts recommend birth spacing of six months after a spontaneous abortion for optimal pregnancy outcomes.

The consensus statement notes that all women should receive counseling and family planning services after any abortion - spontaneous or induced - irrespective of the pregnancy termination or evacuation procedure used. When family planning counseling and services are offered after all types of post abortion treatment, acceptance is high.

Among the key consensus points:

  • Unmet need for family planning is a primary cause of induced abortion
  • All post abortion women should receive voluntary post abortion family planning counseling
  • A wide range of contraceptive methods, including long-acting methods, should be offered and accompanied by simple written instructions
  • Post abortion family planning uptake is high when quality services are offered before a woman is discharged from the hospital or clinic
  • Provision of universal access to post abortion family planning should be a standard of practice for doctors, nurses, and midwives

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Last updated: February 28, 2012

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