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Amnesty International supporters in more than 20 countries will mark the International Day of Action for the Decriminalization of Abortion on September 28 by telling governments to stop making criminals of women and girls who seek abortions.

Tens of thousands of women are dying every year and millions face complications because of restrictive laws that force women and girls to seek unsafe abortions. Around the world, 40 percent of women of childbearing age live in countries where abortion is banned, restricted or not accessible.

“Denying anyone the right to have control over their reproductive and health decisions is cruel, dangerous, and sometimes fatal,” said Tarah Demant, senior director of the Identity and Discrimination Unit at Amnesty International USA. “When the right to end a pregnancy is taken away, people are forced to take unsafe, clandestine measures that endanger their health and their lives.”

Last year Amnesty International released a report on the ban in Ireland, one of the most restrictive bans in Europe, earlier this year. A woman in Ireland faces up to 14 years in prison for an illegal abortion. Amnesty International USA groups will hold protests and actions at Irish embassies and consulates in New York, Chicago, Boston and Washington, DC to mark the day.

“Nobody should face prison as a result of trying to make the best decision for their health, for their family, or for themselves when it comes to deciding whether or not to continue a pregnancy,” said Demant.

My Body My Rights is Amnesty International’s global campaign to stop the control and criminalization of sexuality and reproduction by governments and others.

Facts & figures on abortion:

  • More than 14 million adolescent girls give birth every year, mainly as a result of rape and unwanted pregnancy.
  • 215 million women are not using contraception, even though they want to stop or delay having children.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that globally there are approximately 22 million unsafe abortions annually, resulting in 47,000 deaths, and more than 5 million abortion-related complications.
  • Unsafe abortions are one of the leading causes of death for girls aged 15-19 years of age in low and middle-income countries.