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Young women and girls (ages 15-24) account for nearly one-third of unsafe abortion-related deaths, with 15% of all unsafe abortions taking place among adolescents ages 15-19. However, despite growing global attention to the health and welfare of adolescents and girls, little is known about the abortion experiences of girls under the age of 15.
To help better understand the unique abortion-related experiences and needs of girls (ages 10-14) and adolescents (ages 15-19), Ipas conducted a literature review of the existing peer-reviewed and grey literature around adolescent abortion. In their factsheet, Abortion among adolescents and girls, Ipas shared their findings on the abortion experiences of adolescents and girls.
To improve safe access for girls aged 10-14, the factsheet recommends:
- Offering comprehensive sexuality education, particularly focused on puberty, pregnancy, contraception and how to access safe abortion
- Providing sexual and reproductive health information in schools so that even if comprehensive sexuality education isn’t available, girls have access to basic information on their sexual and reproductive health
- Involving parents in the process and work to reduce communication barriers between girls and their parents
- Addressing health-provider bias with intensive training and client-centered feedback, to ensure sexual and reproductive health services are youth-friendly
- Ensuring care addresses sexual violence and health providers are sensitive to the unique needs of girls who have experienced sexual violence too, ensuring necessary treatment for any physical, emotional and social harms caused is available.
However, a key finding from the work is that more research on the abortion experience of girls ages 10-14 is needed. Despite the heightened risks of unsafe abortion, very few studies on abortion care focus on or segment by the experiences of this age group.
Around the world, the adolescent population is growing—as is their risk of early, unwanted pregnancy—so researchers should include girls ages 10-14 as a focus of sexual health and abortion studies. Studies should examine the specific types of information and support this group needs, to ensure services are accessible to adolescents and girls and their rights are protected.