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International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics. 2010 Jul; 110 Suppl:S17-9.Unsafe abortion is a recognized public health problem that contributes significantly to maternal mortality. At least 13% of maternal mortality is caused by unsafe abortion, mostly in poor and marginalized women. The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) launched an initiative in 2007 to prevent unsafe abortion and its consequences, building on its work on other major causes of maternal mortality. A Working Group was identified with collaborators from many international organizations and terms of reference provided direction from the FIGO Executive Board as to possible evidence-based interventions. A total of 54 member associations of FIGO, representing almost half its member societies, requested participation in the initiative, with 43 subsequently producing action plans that are country specific and involve the national government and multiple collaborators. Obstetrician/gynecologists have demonstrated the importance of the initiative by an unprecedented level of engagement in efforts to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity in country and by sharing experiences regionally. (c) 2010 International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.