Coming up in January 2013 – IWAC!

The second International Women’s Health and Unsafe Abortion Congress (IWAC) will be held in January, 2013.  ASAP will be presenting a panel on unsafe abortion in Asia, and the team is very excited to participate! But are you curious to know more about IWAC? Read what Prof. Kamheang, an advocate for safe abortions from Thailand, a medical doctor and the brain behind IWAC, has to say about the history of the conference! 

In 2007, after the formation of Women’s health and reproductive rights foundation of Thailand, it became apparent that unsafe abortion still kills and maims a great number of women in developing countries, Thailand included. At the same time there has been great advances in the abortion technologies in the past two decades with the popularization of a hand held vacuum aspirator(MVA) for surgical termination of pregnancy(STOP) and the rapid development and successful employment of medical abortion, utilizing a combination of 2 drugs, Mifepristone and Misoprostol to terminate early pregnancies. The latter technique has a great potential of being self administered safely by mid level health personnel and the patient herself without going through a second or third party. At the time there was no platform to exchange information on these new technologies especially in South and Southeast Asia .We therefore planned to provide this needed platform to exchange abortion information and recent technological advances.

IWAC was born in January 2010, 24 months after its conception. There were over 500 attendees from 63 countries around the world. The Prime minister of Thailand opened the congress.

The congress consisted of 6 plenary sessions and 16 symposia covering all aspects of women’s health and unsafe abortion. There was also a memorial oration in memory of Professor Allan Rosenfield of Columbia university, New York a leader in Women’s health and Rights. He had worked in Thailand in his early professional life, and had the perspecacity and audacity to make the oral contraceptive available over the counter or without prescription to Thai women. He did this through his research and suggestions to the Thai Ministry of Public Health.

This action in combination with other factors resulted in the reduction of population growth rate in Thailand from over 3 percent in the late 60’s to 0.9 percent at present. That memorial oration was delivered by no other than  his good friend Professor M. F. Fathalla, the doyen of women’s health and rights advocates.

At the end of the congress the participants had jointly issued the “BANGKOK DECLARATION”. With the successful conclusion of the 1 st congress we were requested by many participants to hold the second IWAC. Hence the second IWAC will be held between January 22-25 ,2013

The objectives of the congress are 4 folds:

  • First to provide platform for exchange of information on women’s health with the focus on safe abortion.
  • Second to update situation in the the concerned countries.
  • Third to update all advances in abortion technologies.
  • Finally to provide platform for networking.

There will be 6 plenary sessions covering abortion topics ranging from law and rights; social aspect of abortion; medical abortion; education and training in abortion care; advocacy and empowerment. There will also be the Allan Rosenfield memorial oration to be delivered by Professor Philip Darney of University of California at San Francisco. Professor David Grimes will speak on the topic of Misogyny and women’s health; Professor Hamid Rushwan will discuss the topic of “historical perspective of English laws on abortion. (It will be noted that the English abortion Law of 1861 is the basis for all the abortion law in many developing countries). There will also be 12 symposia and free communication as well as pre congress workshop on value clarification.

All are welcome to join us in Bangkok from 22-25 January 2013.

Further details can be obtained from the congress website


About Shweta Krishnan

Shweta Krishnan was the Communication and Networking Officer For the Asia Safe Abortion Partnership between June 2012 and March 2014. She is a feminist writer with a background in medicine, and has a strong commitment to promoting sexual and reproductive rights for all.
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