Almost half of abortions worldwide are not safe

29 September, 2017, 00:48 | Author: Clint Gray
  • Nearly Half of Abortions Around the World Are Unsafe

"Whatever the accuracy of these figures, every abortion is a tragedy, and of course by definition a procedure which seeks the death of one party involved is always going to be "unsafe".

According to research by WHO and the Guttmacher Institute, a USA reproductive health think tank, nearly all of the 25.5 million unsafe abortions are happening in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

About half of all abortions that take place around the world are considered unsafe, a new report reveals. Among those abortions, about 25.1 million were performed in unsafe circumstances each year - with about 17.1 million being "less safe" and 8 million being "least safe", the researchers found. This is the case if they are carried out by a trained staff, but with a method that is dated (such as curettage), or the opposite direction with safe means (including the use of misoprostol, a drug widely used), but in the absence of competent staff.

The new analysis distinguished, for the first time, among three categories of abortion: safe, meaning a trained provider used a method recommended by World Health Organization; less-safe, meaning either the provider was untrained or the method was outdated; and least-safe, meaning an untrained provider used risky methods. Abortion is considered safest in areas like northern Europe and northern America.

The highest proportions of safe abortions were seen in countries with less restrictive laws, high economic development and well developed infrastructures.

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"It's sad that there are so many unsafe abortions, when actually the science and technology for making safe abortion assessable is very simple", said study author Dr. Bela Ganatra, a scientist at the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at the WHO.

The researchers themselves noted in the study that, in general, empirical data on abortions were scarce, especially in countries where abortions were legally restricted, stigmatized or less likely to be reported. "It is also important to note that women undergoing abortions in Africa had the highest risk of dying from a least safe abortion".

The authors categorized the procedures into three categories: safe, less safe, and least safe. Without legal access to abortions, women are too often left without the option of safety.

Provision of safe, legal abortion is essential to fulfilling the global commitment to the Sustainable Development Goal of universal access to sexual and reproductive health (target 3.7).

The researchers wrote in the new study, "this analysis suggested that unsafe abortion is still a major problem in developing countries and that progress towards safer abortion is needed, even in some developed countries".

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Indeed, complications from in-clinic and medication abortions (when done following the correct procedures and under the guidance of a trained individual) are extremely rare.

"Too many women continue to suffer and die, " she said.

They found that, in total, about 55.7 million abortions occurred annually worldwide between 2010 and 2014.

The safety of abortion in developed countries (where it is likely to be legal) is also exaggerated. This law, known as the Global Gag Rule, forbids the US's federal funds from going towards any organisation that so much as mentions "abortion" in its documents.

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