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American Journal of Public Health. 2013 Apr; 103(4):593-6.We discuss the history of the World Health Organization's (WHO's) development of guidelines for governments on providing safe abortion services, which WHO published as Safe Abortion: Technical and Policy Guidance for Health Systems in 2003 and updated in 2012. We show how the recognition of the devastating impact of unsafe abortion on women's health and survival, the impetus of the International Conference on Population and Development and its five-year follow-up, and WHO's progressive leadership at the end of the century enabled the organization to elaborate guidance on providing safe abortion services. Guideline formulation involved extensive review of published evidence, an international technical expert meeting to review the draft document, and a protracted in-house review by senior WHO management.
Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2012 Sep 1; 90(9):712.The World Health Organization’s (WHO) update of its 2003 publication Safe abortion: technical and policy guidance for health systems has responded to a major neglected public health need of women. The substantial revisions in the 2012 update reflect developments in safe abortion methods and clinical care, providing guidance about the range of safe options available to women seeking elective abortion. Women’s participation in the choice of abortion method, pain control and post-abortion contraception is a crucial element, seeing as unsafe induced abortion is not only public health problem but also a human rights issue. The report discusses developments in the application of human rights principles in policy-making and in legislation related to induced abortion. National courts and regional and international human rights bodies, such as the United Nations treaty monitoring bodies, have increasingly applied these principles to facilitate women’s transparent access to safe abortion services.