HEALTH: Unsafe abortions kill 70,000 a year
Nearly 70,000 women, almost half of them in Asia, die from unsafe abortions each year despite government pledges made a decade ago to improve human rights and reproductive health, researchers said Wednesday.
A report presented at a three-day meeting to gauge progress made since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo showed only small gains have been made to prevent maternal deaths from abortions.
“Unsafe abortion poses a serious threat to the health and lives of women all around the world, not just in Asia,” Elizabeth Maguire, president of the Ipas group which works to protect women from unsafe abortions, told Reuters.
Unsafe abortion was recognized as a major public health concern at the ICPD when 179 members of the United Nations set goals to improve women’s reproductive health, education and rights and to increase family planning services to reduce unsafe abortions by 2015.
Governments also agreed, where abortion was considered legal, to make sure it was safe. But the Ipas research showed that in some regions unsafe abortions account for 50 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths of women.
“We have figures that 40 women every minute undergo an unsafe abortion and 200 are dying every day. The real message is that these deaths and disabilities from unsafe abortion are preventable,” Maguire said.
She told a news conference at the London meeting called Countdown 2015, which marks the half-way point to 2015, that governments have not done enough.
“Changing the laws and effectively implementing those changes is the only way to ensure that women can fully exercise their right to decide whether and when to have children,” she said.
According to the report, Asia accounts for 55 percent of the world’s unsafe abortions, the highest of any region, with about 10.5 million in 2000, followed by Africa with 4.2 million unsafe abortions and Latin America and the Caribbean with 3.7 million.
In Chile and El Salvador, abortion is not legal on any grounds. Some countries allow it for reasons such as ensuring the mother’s life and in cases of rape or incest.
“But the fact is, even where it is legal under limited grounds it is not available and it is not safe,” Maguire said.
In Nepal, India, Indonesia and the Philippines, post-abortion care has been introduced since 1994. Poor, unmarried women, widows, adolescents and divorcees are the least likely to have access to safe abortions.
“Unsafe abortion is really all about human rights and social injustice because those women who are poor and vulnerable do not have access to safe abortion,” Maguire added. reuters