Postabortion Care

Postabortion care (PAC) clients are women and girls with a need for FP. Even if a woman wants to have a child immediately, WHO guidelines recommend she wait at least six months after a spontaneous or induced abortion before getting pregnant again. Postabortion care includes three components:

  1. Emergency treatment for complications of abortion.
  2. FP counseling and service provision and, where financial and human resources are available, evaluation and treatment for STIs as well as HIV counseling and/or referral for testing of postabortion women.
  3. Community empowerment through community awareness and mobilization.

Unmet need for FP is high among postabortion clients. A review of PAC research from10 studies found that, on average, nearly 20% of postabortion clients reported having had a previous induced abortion. Among five studies with data, more than a quarter (27%) of PAC clients wanted to wait more than two years to have additional children. Furthermore, more than half of PAC clients expressed an interest in using contraception (10 studies), yet only about one-quarter (27%) left the facility with a contraceptive method (six studies).[1]

Women are at risk of pregnancy almost immediately after abortion. Fertility returns as soon as one week after an abortion.[2] Timely FP services can prevent a subsequent unplanned pregnancy.

Key Postabortion Care Resources:

[1] Kidder E., Sonneveldt E., and Hardee K. 2004. Who receives PAC services? Evidence from 14 countries. Washington, D.C.: The Futures Group, POLICY Project. Available from:

[2] Wilcox A.J., Dunson D., and Baird D.D. 2000. The timing of the “fertility window” in the menstrual cycle: Day specific estimates from a prospective study. British Medical Journal, 321(7271), 1259-62.