Half of all abortions around the world are now unsafe, according to a new report. Most at risk are women in developing countries: almost all the abortions in Africa and Latin America are dangerous - executed outside hospitals, or without qualified medical supervision.
While abortion rates were steadily declining since the 1990′s, this progress is now stalled. The World Health Organization study suggests global abortion rates are constant at 28 per 1,000 women a year. However, the proportion of the total carried out without trained clinical help rose from 44% in 1995 to 49% in 2008. The researchers used surveys, official statistics and hospital records to compile the figures, which was a difficult task in developing countries, where abortion is often illegal. They found that almost all abortions in Africa (97%) and Latin America (95%) are unsafe and 40% of those in Asia. According to Professor Beverly Winikoff, from Gynuity – a New York organisation fighting for safer abortion – this confirms that “women who wish to terminate unwanted pregnancies will seek abortion at any cost, even if it is illegal or involves risk to their own lives”.
These figures are deeply disturbing, while complications of unsafe abortion are a major cause of maternal death worldwide. ”Unsafe abortion is one of the five major contributors to maternal mortality, causing one in every seven or eight maternal deaths in 2008″, wrote Professor Winikoff.
Dr Gilda Sedgh ScD, Susheela Singh PhD, Iqbal H Shah PhD, Elisabeth Åhman MA, Stanley K Henshaw PhD, & Akinrinola Bankole PhD (2012). Induced abortion: incidence and trends worldwide from 1995 to 2008 The Lancet, Early Online Publication. : 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61786-8
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Doctors and demonstrators. How political institutions shape abortion law in the United States, Britain and Canada. Halfmann, Drew. University of Chicago Press., 2011