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In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a revised set of guidelines on the medical management of abortion. As an update on the 2012 WHO Safe Abortion Guidelines, the new guidelines provide healthcare workers with evidence-based recommendations related to high-quality medication abortion provision.
Specifically, the guidelines provide updated recommendations for medication abortion in line with new clinical evidence on the dosages, dosing intervals and routes of administration, as well as contraception initiation post-abortion.
The guidelines lay out the importance of safe medication abortion in expanding access to women:
“Medical abortion care plays a crucial role in providing access to safe, effective and acceptable abortion care. In both high- and low-resource settings, the use of medical methods of abortion have contributed to task shifting and sharing and more efficient use of resources. Moreover, many interventions in medical abortion care, particularly those in early pregnancy, can now be provided at the primary-care level and on an outpatient basis, which further increases access to care. Medical abortion care reduces the need for skilled surgical abortion providers and offers a non-invasive and highly acceptable option to pregnant individuals.”
Commenting on why the updates are needed, WHO explained:
“A number of new studies have been published in more recent years providing evidence related to the timing, dosage, dosing intervals and routes of administration of medications to manage abortion, and also the timing of contraception initiation following a medical abortion."