From harm reduction to legalization: The Uruguayan model for safe abortion

Bianca M. Stifani, Martin Couto, Alejandra Lopez Gomez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Advocacy by feminists and healthcare providers was essential in passing the 2012 bill legalizing abortion in Uruguay, which was primarily framed in terms of a public health imperative. Prior to legalization, a group of influential physicians had established a “harm reduction” approach consisting of pre- and postabortion counseling with a focus on safer abortion methods. The existence of a network of providers from this initiative facilitated the implementation of abortion services after legalization. Particularities of the Uruguayan model include a strong focus on medical abortion, and a multidisciplinary approach to patient counseling. The implementation of services was largely successful, and rates of abortion-related morbidity and mortality have decreased. Remaining concerns include high rates of conscientious objection and insufficient human resources to staff interdisciplinary counseling teams. The focus on medical abortion has led to a lack of method choice. Finally, data collection gaps complicate monitoring and identification of barriers to access.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-51
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Advocacy
  • Harm reduction
  • Implementation
  • Legalization
  • Medication abortion
  • Public health
  • Safe abortion
  • Uruguay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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