Nearly 70,000 Women Die Due To Unsafe Abortions


A global report said on Tuesday October 13, 2009 that contraceptives has decreased global abortion rates down, however unsafe abortions kill 70,000 women every year, while seriously harming millions more.

The report by the Guttmacher Institute said the number of abortions fell from an estimated 45.5 million in 1995 to 41.6 million in 2003. The study that surveyed 197 countries showed almost 20 million unsafe abortions took place. Most of those abortions were in poorer countries often carried out by women themselves using inappropriate drugs or herbal potions.

"It is significant and tragic that while the overall rate of abortion is on the decline, unsafe abortion has not declined," said Sharon Camp, president of the Guttmacher Institute. "Legal restrictions do not stop abortion from happening, they just make the procedure dangerous. Too many women are maimed or killed each year because they lack legal abortion access," she told a news conference in London.

In South America and Africa over 90% of women live in areas with strict abortion laws. The researchers said that in the developing world as a whole, healthcare for women harmed by unsafe abortions costs an estimated $500 million. "Behind every abortion is an unwanted pregnancy," said Akinrinola Bankole, the Guttmacher's international research director.

Bankole also stated that developing countries and donor nations should look at the figures, which demonstrate that "preventing unwanted pregnancy is cost-effective." He said that “women will continue to seek abortion whether it is safe or not as long as the unmet need for contraception remains high," Camp said. "With sufficient political will, we can ensure that no woman has to die in order to end a pregnancy she neither wanted nor planned for."


Camp says Western Europe is an example of what access to contraceptive services can achieve. The Netherlands has just 10 abortions per 1,000 women, compared to the world's 29 per 1,000.

Josephine Quintavalle who is one of the pro-life on Reproductive Ethics said "Abortion - back street or front street - is not the answer. Ensuring women have the means to end their pregnancies is not liberating them - they should be able to make real choices before they fall pregnant in the first place."

"But that shouldn't necessarily mean taking pills everyday. There will always be problems with access and cost, particularly in countries where people struggle just to buy food.” She continued to say, "What we need is to better understand our fertility - if there are just 24 fertile hours in a month, we need to work out a cheap, effective way for women to know when they can fall pregnant. That would be freedom, and that's what we should aim for."

What the report let the world know is that every year, over 70,000 women will die as a direct result of an unsafe abortion. That means that almost a quarter of a million children will be raised without a mother.

References: NPR and Associated Press.

Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
Tucson, Arizona
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