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On January 23, 2009, President Obama lifted the Global Gag Rule, a ban on U.S. funding for international groups that perform abortions, promote legalizing abortion, or provide counseling on the full range of reproductive health options.

For many women outside the United States, however, the obstacles to obtaining safe abortion care can be insurmountable. An estimated 68,000 women worldwide die each year from unsafe abortions.1 The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that every minute of each day, 40 women undergo unsafe abortions.

NAF provides technical assistance to providers throughout the world in an effort to eradicate the threat of unsafe abortion. NAF is an internationally recognized medical authority on abortion; the World Health Organization consulted NAF's Clinical Policy Guidelines when developing international clinical policy guidelines for abortion practice.

Barriers to Abortion Care

Even in countries where abortion is technically legal, obtaining safe abortion care can be difficult. Many of the same restrictions imposed on access to abortion in the United States also exist abroad, such as burdensome waiting periods and irrelevant or biased "informed consent" requirements. Some countries even require spousal notification or consent before a procedure can be performed. These procedural barriers conspire to keep abortion out of reach for many women.

The United States has too often lagged behind other developed nations in securing women's reproductive rights, both internationally and at home. Even though there is much work to be done, the Obama Administration is taking steps to ensure that women around the world receive reproductive health care.


  1. The World Health Report 2005 - Make every mother and child count. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2005.

need help? If you are outside the U.S. and Canada, call the NAF Hotline for information about the availability of abortion in your country and referral to organizations that may be able to help. 1-800-772-9100

international programs. NAF provides abortion training and technical assistance to medical professionals around the world to help save women’s lives. Learn more

international members. Medical organizations and individuals outside the U.S. and Canada benefit from NAF memberships designed just for them. Learn more
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