Some health issues with which we deal on a daily basis are generally accepted as matters of importance for which we must ensure appropriate care and treatment. Examples include having high cholesterol, living with diabetes and providing new-borns with proper nutrition. Other health issues, however, generate disagreement, dissonance and sometimes denial of care.
Such a health issue which is fraught with controversy, conflict and condemnation is termination of pregnancy. One reason that abortion evokes strong emotions and reactions is that it reflects women’s need to control their own bodies, a human rights principle that contravenes dominant patriarchal attitudes and practices and, in some cases, cultural beliefs.
But many other sensitive issues associated with abortion also play a role in impeding women’s access to safe and legal pregnancy termination. This paper examines those sensitive issues, as well as other factors that hinder or facilitate the acceptability of safe abortion and girls’ and women’s access to it.