The Technical opinion is in response to a request made by Ms. Catherine McDonald, Executive Director of Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD – now Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights) to the World Health Organization (WHO).
At the time of request, the Prime Minister’s signature G8 initiative was the subject of inquiries by two Canadian parliamentary Committees: The House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Ms. McDonald testified before both Standing Committees in their inquiry on the G8 Maternal and Child Health initiative.
To inform the submissions to these two Parliamentary Committees, Ms. McDonald requested an expert opinion from the World Health Organization on the following questions:
- What is the role of safe abortion in realizing maternal health?
- What are the health implications of lack of access to safe abortion services?
- Would the need for safe abortion services be eliminated even if there were widespread access to all other reproductive health services?
- In the WHO’s opinion, are safe abortion services necessary to eliminate preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and to achieve MDG 5?
- What is the nature and scope of international legal obligations and commitments of Governments to eliminate unsafe abortion and to provide access to safe abortion services?