Daniela Draghici

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    Challenges and perspectives in advocacy of safe abortion

    Daniela Draghici, Roumania

    Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is a region where abortion rates remain high, despite efforts to encourage contraceptive use and secure supplies of modern methods. Strategic assesments in Roumania, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine have shown that abortion remains the preferred method of fertility conrol because it is often cheaper than contraception and widely available. Abortion, however, remains of low quality; unsafe abortions account for 24% of maternal deaths (WHO, 1998).

    Characteristics include: unsafe technologies, low level of motivation and training of providers, no counseling or choice of methods, and no post-abortion free contraception. Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) and Medical abortion (MA) drugs are registered in several CEE countries; nevertheless, access to these methods is very limited especially for vulnerable groups (youth, low income families, HIV positive women, etc).

    The Eastern European Alliance for Reproductive Choice (EEARC) purports to raise awareness, sensitize providers, motivate women’s groups, develop new evidence-based training curricula, and to improve access to and quality of safe abortion, including medical abortion services. EEARC has a multidisciplinary membership structure and works to collect and disseminate evidence-based information on safe abortion,  including medical abortion, through country reports shared across the network. The Alliance is actively increasing its membership and promotes exchange of advocacy strategies and educational materials across the network.

    Through presentations at national and international conferences, members of EEARC have raised awareness about the need for better access to safe abortion services, including medical abortion, especially to audiences of providers and women's organizers. This presentation will review EEARC's network development, awareness raising, and advocacy activities and discuss their impact in a challen-ging environment, including their success in building of broader support for safe abortion, including medical abortion that has been demonstrated among healthcare providers and women's organizations. The Alliance is working as a catalyst to coalesce advoca-cy efforts to counteract restrictions recently imposed by governments and parliaments in CEE countries. Country examples from Lithuania, Moldova, Roumania, Russia, and Ukraine will be presented in the context of regional challenges in maintaining abortion rights amidst an increa-sing conservative opposition movement.