Monday, November 26, 2007

Banning Makes No Impact on Abortion Rates

As many of us have always believed, women who need to have an abortion, no mater the reason, will find a way weather it is legal or not.
In a study examining abortion trends from 1995 to 2003, experts also found that abortion rates are virtually equal in rich and poor countries, and that half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe.

The study was done by Gilda Sedgh of the Guttmacher Institute in the United States and colleagues from the World Health Organization. It was published in an edition of The Lancet medical journal devoted to maternal health.

“The legal status of abortion has never dissuaded women and couples, who, for whatever reason, seek to end pregnancy,” Beth Fredrick of the International Women’s Health Coalition in the U.S. said in an accompanying commentary.

Abortion accounts for 13 percent of maternal mortality worldwide. About 70,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions. An additional 5 million women suffer permanent or temporary injury.

“The continuing high incidence of unsafe abortion in developing countries represents a public health crisis and a human rights atrocity,” Fredrick wrote.

The number of worldwide abortions has dipped from about 46 million in 1995 to just under 42 million in 2003. But there was no change in the rate of unsafe abortions; nearly half the procedures are still performed illegally in potentially dangerous conditions.

“The only way to decrease unsafe abortion is to increase contraception,” said Sharon Camp, president and chief executive officer of the Guttmacher Institute.

Camp said that more countries are allowing women to have abortions legally, but many women only receive medical attention after a procedure has gone wrong. “I don’t think women should have to hurt themselves before they get medical treatment,” she said…

Nicaragua, for example has banned all abortions, even to save the life of the mother (something most pro-lifers in the US would probably agree with). It is one of 35 countries worldwide to completely ban abortions.

Two weeks after Olga Reyes danced at her wedding, her bloated and disfigured body was laid to rest in an open coffin — the victim, her husband and some experts say, of Nicaragua’s new no-exceptions ban on abortion.

Reyes, a 22-year-old law student, suffered an ectopic pregnancy. The fetus develops outside the uterus, cannot survive and causes bleeding that endangers the mother. But doctors seemed afraid to treat her because of the anti-abortion law, said husband Agustin Perez. By the time they took action, it was too late.

[Poster © Barbara Kruger]