Tweeting for #AbortionRts and Access to #SafeAbortion:

Our Tweetathon on September 28 was eventful thanks to our vibrant and enthusiastic followers from around the Globe! We were particularly glad to see young people chiming in, and youth organizations like YSnap, Choice for Youth, and IpasYouth joining us to retweet, and chat.

We were also happy to tweet alongside fellow organizations working for reproductive rights like RHM Journal, Women on Waves and Web, Ipas, Samsara, Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights, Ibis RH and IPPF.

We were also joined by regional NGOs like Population Foundation of India, TARSHI, which works for sexuality education in India, and Bell Bajao, which works against sexual violence, and recently gender discrimination. Nasawiya and its staff joined us from Lebanon, and ALRANZ joined us from New Zealand.

It was wonderful to hear every single message but here are five that stood out:

Sharing Information:

We tweeted resources on access to safe abortions across Asia; abortion laws in each of our member countries; prochoice testimonials from Pakistan, Turkey, and Vietnam; medical abortion hotlines; the 2012 WHO guidance on safe abortion; and articles on the positive impact of decriminalization on Nepal.

We also got several resources from our fellow tweeters, and we retweeted these to our followers.

These included IPPF’s video about safe abortions in Asia, produced specifically for September 28.

We also learned about Women on Web’s exciting initiative to put up abortion rights messages outside the Vatican, and other prominent Catholic churches around the globe.

Samsara, our partner in Indonesia, had some very exciting events going on including a radio show on abortion rights, and street art depicting women’s need for safe abortion.

Nasawiya shared their new paper, which spoke about safe abortion in Lebanon. Rola Yasmine, tweeted from Beirut, “Laws in Lebanon only legally acknowledge abortion in the case to save a woman’s life. But it happens a lot more often.” She told us about the need to extend access to immigrant women, poor women, women in rural areas and unwed women, who were currently deprived of safe abortion services. If women fall under more than one of these categories, safe abortion is even harder to access. You can read more on Nasawiya’s website.

Some Challenges that remain:

We threw out questions to our tweeters about barriers to safe abortion.  We learned that

  1. Women in several Asian countries do not get safe abortions even where it is legal, because they are not made aware of their options. Adolescents around Asia also need access to information on safe abortion, as well as safe sex.
  2. Care providers are not as sensitive as they should be. Some doctors are ill-informed about abortion, and unfortunately spread false information that abortion causes infertility. Others are judgmental and make their patiens feel uncomfortable. “The answers lie in education and training from a rights perspective for providers,” tweeted TARSHI.
  3. Abortion is still widely being villified as a reason for the skewed sex-ratio. But as ASAP’s Programme Assistant Dr. Shilpa Shroff tweeted, “There is female infanticide, neglect, starving after females are born.Banning abortion only promotes unsafe abortion. It does not correct sex-ratios.”

Anti-Choice Voices:

Every Pro-choice event has a few of these. So did ours!

One of our followers from Malaysia @dila2lala found herself chatting with a few anti-choice tweeters. She immediately passed their messages to us, and asked us to help her support her pro-choice response!

One of them said: “Abortion is killing,” and the other said,  “Abortion violates the rights of the child”

We replied to these by pointing out that “Unsafe Abortion is the real killer. Safe abortion saves the lives of millions of women,” and “Human rights begin once the baby is born. It is important to recognize the difference between a fetus and a child.”

We also received a message on our blog from Dr. S.P. Choong, ASAP Steering Committee chair, and the Co-chair of the Reproductive Rights Advocacy Alliance of Malaysia:

Malaysia’s Ministry of Health has decided to force all abortion services to be performed in a hospital environment; another ploy to restrict women’s access to safe abortions. RRAAM will be questioning whether this policy is evidence-based. That’s why we need a global movement to combat ignorance and prejudice.

Tweets from around the world echoed his call to battle ignorance, bias and misinformation.

Overall, it was really exciting to hear all these voices calling out together for safe abortion rights. We hope the excitement and the inspiration will go well past September 28. The International Campaign for Women’s Rights to Safe Abortion aims to keep this momentum alive. Join us, and endorse it by filling out this survey:


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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