Sunday, October 14, 2007

Unsafe Abortions Continue

Around the world unsafe abortions continue, current public health policies based on abstinence have not helped, nor have restrictions moral and political on contraception. Laws outlawing abortions have had limited impacts.

Backstreet abortions continue by unskilled practitioners. The latest issue of the Lancet shows that at least half of all women who have abortions do not have access to proper medical procedures. This results in the death or injury, thanks to laws and moral programs against a womans right to choose.

As the Lancet points out this is a war on women.

Access to safe abortions a key intervention to improving maternal health

The Lancet, Current Issue, Volume 370, Number 9595, 13 October 2007


Information on incidence of induced abortion is crucial for identifying policy and programmatic needs aimed at reducing unintended pregnancy. Because unsafe abortion is a cause of maternal morbidity and mortality, measures of its incidence are also important for monitoring progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5. We present new worldwide estimates of abortion rates and trends and discuss their implications for policies and programmes to reduce unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion and to increase access to safe abortion.


An estimated 42 million abortions were induced in 2003, compared with 46 million in 1995. The induced abortion rate in 2003 was 29 per 1000 women aged 15–44 years, down from 35 in 1995. Abortion rates were lowest in western Europe (12 per 1000 women). Rates were 17 per 1000 women in northern Europe, 18 per 1000 women in southern Europe, and 21 per 1000 women in northern America (USA and Canada). In 2003, 48% of all abortions worldwide were unsafe, and more than 97% of all unsafe abortions were in developing countries. There were 31 abortions for every 100 livebirths worldwide in 2003, and this ratio was highest in eastern Europe (105 for every 100 livebirths).


Overall abortion rates are similar in the developing and developed world, but unsafe abortion is concentrated in developing countries. Ensuring that the need for contraception is met and that all abortions are safe will reduce maternal mortality substantially and protect maternal health.

Unsafe abortion: the preventable pandemic

The Lancet, Volume 368, Number 9550, 25 November 2006

Ending the silent pandemic of unsafe abortion is an urgent public-health and human-rights imperative. As with other more visible global-health issues, this scourge threatens women throughout the developing world. Every year, about 19–20 million abortions are done by individuals without the requisite skills, or in environments below minimum medical standards, or both. Nearly all unsafe abortions (97%) are in developing countries. An estimated 68 000 women die as a result, and millions more have complications, many permanent. Important causes of death include haemorrhage, infection, and poisoning. Legalisation of abortion on request is a necessary but insufficient step toward improving women's health; in some countries, such as India, where abortion has been legal for decades, access to competent care remains restricted because of other barriers. Access to safe abortion improves women's health, and vice versa, as documented in Romania during the regime of President Nicolae Ceausescu. The availability of modern contraception can reduce but never eliminate the need for abortion. Direct costs of treating abortion complications burden impoverished health care systems, and indirect costs also drain struggling economies. The development of manual vacuum aspiration to empty the uterus, and the use of misoprostol, an oxytocic agent, have improved the care of women. Access to safe, legal abortion is a fundamental right of women, irrespective of where they live. The underlying causes of morbidity and mortality from unsafe abortion today are not blood loss and infection but, rather, apathy and disdain toward women.


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