The second edition of the World Health Organization’s Safe Abortion: Technical and
Policy Guidance for Health Systems deserves scrutiny because it raises questions about
whether it promotes the highest standards of medical care. The guidance aims at ensuring
that abortion may be performed more widely by non-medical personnel even if it has
to proceed without diagnosis, ultrasound, follow-up care, or drugs that have become
standard in medical practice.
A primary concern is the WHO is recommending abortion practices for
women in developing countries that have been rejected by medical experts in the
developed world. WHO bases its promotion of the revised guidelines on claims that
abortion is both safer than childbirth and also a human right, neither of which enjoys
This paper analyzes the 11 most troubling aspects in two main areas: the way the guidance would raise the risk to women's health and the way the guidance is based upon faulty legal and scientific data.