Unsafe abortions kill 70,000 women each year, according to a recent study of 197 countries by the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute. The three-year study also found abortions are happening in countries where they are legal just as often as in countries where they are illegal—despite the fact that 40 percent of the world’s women live in places were abortion laws are strict. Said Sharon Camp, Guttmacher’s president:
”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.”
The only possibly good news out of Guttmacher’s study is that the number of total abortions decreased worldwide from 45.5 million in 1995 to 41.6 million in 2003. Guttmacher credited the decrease (surprise!) to more widespread use of birth control.
It surely doesn’t take a genius to see there is a link between reproductive rights for women, like abortion and birth control, and a lower number of deaths from unsafe abortions. Obviously, if a woman can prevent an unwanted pregnancy in the first place, or terminate her pregnancy safely and legally, she won’t resort to trying to do it herself, or find some untrained, sketchy person to do it for her. How tragic is it that Guttmacher found over half of the annual deaths each year from unsafe abortions occur in sub-Saharan Africa, an area with restrictive abortion laws and one of the lowest rates of contraception use?
It’s sickening to think about how when millions of women across the world have had safe, legal abortions, there are still women who’re dying from “back alley” versions of the procedure. That shouldn’t be happening. Period. [New York Times, BBC]