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Half of all abortions carried out in unsafe conditions

29 September 2017, 12:48 | Lucy Hill

Abortions: easier to obtain than ever, yet nearly half worldwide are deemed unsafe, study finds

Nearly Half of Abortions Around the World Are Unsafe

The country has legalized therapeutic abortion two months later, on September 14.

According to the study, 25.5 million unsafe abortions were carried out yearly between 2010 and 2014 worldwide, with 97 per cent occurring in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Restricting access to termination procedures does not reduce the number of abortions, the study concluded. "Complications from "least-safe" abortions can include incomplete abortion (failure to remove all of the pregnancy tissue from the uterus), haemorrhage, vaginal, cervical and uterine injury, and infections", the study stated. This meant that while the abortion was done by a trained provider, they may have used an outdated method.

For an abortion to be considered safe, it had to be performed with a method recommended by World Health Organization that was appropriate to the pregnancy duration, and the person providing the abortion had to be properly trained. It revealed that 25.1 million of the 55.7 million abortions carried out every year between 2010 and 2014 weren't safe for the women undergoing the procedure. Abortion is considered safest in areas like northern Europe and northern America.

The proportion of abortions that were safe in Eastern Asia, including China, was similar to developed regions.

They have also said that 17.1 million of these abortion procedures are unsafe, with the highest levels of unsafe abortions prevalent on the African continent.


"Our findings call for the need to ensure access to safe abortions to the full extent of the law, particularly in low-income regions of the world, and efforts are needed to replace the use of unsafe methods with safe methods", Bela Ganatra, lead author of the study said.

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Abortion is illegal in Nigeria unless to save the life of the mother. "It is also a tragedy, and a scandal, that resources are being diverted from providing essential maternal health care to the provision of abortion, under the guise of decreasing unsafe abortion".

This has meant that this region has seen fewer deaths and fewer severe complications from unsafe abortions.

US President Donald Trump has reinstated a policy that requires foreign NGOs that receive US global family planning funds to certify that they do not perform abortions or provide abortion advice as a method of family planning.

"It is a very safe method that women are taking into their own hands", said Gunatra. Of those unsafe abortions, the majority were characterized as "least safe".

Overall, nearly all abortions in developed countries were deemed safe, whereas roughly half of those in developing countries were safe, according to the findings. This is because these places, like northern Europe and northern America 'have less restrictive laws on abortion, high contraceptive use, high economic development, high levels of gender equality and well developed health infrastructures'. Similarly, it can be extremely hard for doctors to distinguish between complications caused by miscarriage and induced abortion.

"Women are going to have abortions when they are faced with the situation where they need it and if they can't get access to safe ones they will go further down the spectrum to less safe and perhaps even risky", she said. It simply makes it less safe for women.

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