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SAIGE Technical Guidance Paper: Young Women and Abortion

There are some 3.9 million girls aged 15 to 19 years who undergo unsafe abortions every year. Young women face unique vulnerabilities when accessing healthcare and safe abortion services even in contexts where abortion is legal because of their age and gender. The obstacles that many young women face in obtaining safe and legal abortions include restrictive laws that criminalise abortion, lack of providers willing to perform abortions, substandard conditions in healthcare facilities, fear of stigmatisation for terminating pregnancy, and individual beliefs on abortion. In countries where abortion services are legal and available, besides those previously mentioned, there is also a lack of awareness of the legal status of abortion and bias in providing services mainly within the framework of marriage. Young women across the world face discrimination and barriers to access based on their race, caste, class, gender, age, marital status, and region. Young women are not a monolith, they face unique vulnerabilities that are based on their identities and location. An intersectional approach posits the need to analyse and understand the multiple oppressions that are faced by young women.

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