Abortion just as common where illegal

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-11-2006
Abortion just as common where illegal
Fri, 10-12-2007 - 11:41am
Abortion just as common where it's illegal

  • Story Highlights
  • Report: Worldwide, one in five pregnancies ends in abortion

  • Report: About 70,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions

  • Report: Eastern Europe has 105 abortions for every 100 live births

  • U.S. government aid funds cannot be used in services associated with abortion

LONDON, England (AP) -- Women are just as likely to get an abortion in countries where it is outlawed as they are in countries where it is legal, according to research published Friday.

In a study examining abortion trends from 1995 to 2003, experts also found that abortion rates are virtually equal in rich and poor countries, and that half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe.

The study was done by Gilda Sedgh of the Guttmacher Institute in the United States and colleagues from the World Health Organization. It was published in an edition of The Lancet medical journal devoted to maternal health.

"The legal status of abortion has never dissuaded women and couples, who, for whatever reason, seek to end pregnancy," Beth Fredrick of the International Women's Health Coalition in the U.S. said in an accompanying commentary.

Abortion accounts for 13 percent of maternal mortality worldwide. About 70,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions. An additional 5 million women suffer permanent or temporary injury.

"The continuing high incidence of unsafe abortion in developing countries represents a public health crisis and a human rights atrocity," Fredrick wrote.

The number of worldwide abortions has dipped from about 46 million in 1995 to just under 42 million in 2003. But there was no change in the rate of unsafe abortions; nearly half the procedures are still performed illegally in potentially dangerous conditions.

"The only way to decrease unsafe abortion is to increase contraception," said Sharon Camp, president and chief executive officer of the Guttmacher Institute.

Camp said that more countries are allowing women to have abortions legally, but many women only receive medical attention after a procedure has gone wrong. "I don't think women should have to hurt themselves before they get medical treatment," she said.

The vast majority of abortions -- 35 million -- were in the developing world. And nearly 97 percent of all unsafe abortions were in poor countries. Worldwide, one in five pregnancies ends in abortion.

The study defined unsafe abortions as those performed either by people lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that does not conform to minimum medical standards.

In eastern Europe, there are more abortions than live births: 105 abortions for every 100 live births, the research found. In Western Europe, there are 23 abortions for every 100 live births.

In North America, there are 33 abortions for every 100 live births, while in Africa, where abortion is illegal in most countries, there are 17 abortions for every 100 live births.

Improving women's health, experts said, means improving access to safe abortions. Some experts criticized the restrictions that often come with donor money. Funds from the U.S. government, for example, cannot be used in any health services associated with abortion.

Because providing safe abortions depends on a working health-care system, experts said tackling the problem is difficult.

In related papers published in The Lancet this week, experts said there has been little improvement in helping women survive pregnancy and childbirth in the last two decades, particularly in the world's poorest countries.

Unlike improving child health, which can be done relatively easily by things like immunizing children against various diseases, "you can't give women a pill for obstetric complications," said Ann Starrs, executive vice president for Family Care International in the U.S., who was not linked to the study.

Competing with other health issues for limited health dollars is also a problem.

"Donors love to distribute bed nets for malaria because it's simple to do and it's easy to show the progress you've made," said Dr. Lale Say, a WHO maternal health expert. "But unfortunately for women's health, there is no single strategy that will work everywhere."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

**Navy Wife to Eddie since Dec 2002**

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-11-2005
Fri, 10-12-2007 - 12:26pm

There have always been abortions and will aways been abortions and making them illegal will never STOP them. No matter what some PL'er wants to think.


~~Sam stitches well with others, runs with scissors in her pocket. Cheerful and stupid.
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-12-2003
Tue, 10-16-2007 - 3:53pm

Do you have a link to this study?

I've read some reports that dispute this study but since I'm not a member of Lancet, I can't view the actual study, only a summary.

I'd like to know how they obtained the data. Abortion statistics are not very well kept in the US so I can't imagine that they would be in other parts of the world either.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-03-2007
Thu, 10-18-2007 - 12:33pm

Abortion stats are well-reported in 46 states - you are correct that some of these have not yet finished incorporating mifepristone abortions into their stats, but it's happening.

New Hampshire and New Jersey and the District of Columbia are places where reporting is merely voluntary.

That's enough to force all the final reports to say "incomplete" but overall there is good reporting.

I'm attaching the fulltext of the study, if you want to examine the methods. I admit I have only skimmed it - hope to get a chance to really read it later this week. Enjoy!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-31-2007
Thu, 10-18-2007 - 7:14pm

"In North America, there are 33 abortions for every 100 live births, while in Africa, where abortion is illegal in most countries, there are 17 abortions for every 100 live births."

How is that "just as common where illegal"?

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-15-2005
Fri, 10-19-2007 - 8:24am

<<<... but it seems to me that if anything, African women would be more likely to find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy than would north American women, due to the lack of affordable or effective birth control in many parts of Africa.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-31-2007
Sun, 10-21-2007 - 2:54am
" <<<... but it seems to me that if anything, African women would be more likely to find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy than would north American women, due to the lack of affordable or effective birth control in many parts of Africa.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-03-2007
Sun, 10-21-2007 - 8:27am

Okay. Woke up at 6 on a Sunday, husband still sleeping so I can't rattle around cleaning house and so I'm finally really reading that paper.

About the stats in question:I hate math as much as the next person, and this is a good example of why. The Africa=17 number is a ratio, between abortions and live births. If you look in the table just to the left of where you found that data (page 5 of the paper) you'll see the data for abortions per 1000 women, which is the kind of data we usually talk about on this board. By that measure, Africa is at 29 and America is at 21 per 1000 women. What this represents is that the average African woman is having something like 6 kids, and all those live births are "diluting" the number of abortions.

Next, the claim that the reporter ran off with is really "Overall abortion rates are similar in the developing and developed world, but unsafe abortion is concentrated in developing countries. Ensuring that the need for contraception is met and that all abortions are safe will reduce maternal mortality substantially and protect maternal health."

The paper's comment on legality is: "both the highest and lowest abortion rates were seen in regions where abortion is almost uniformly legal under a wide range of circumstances." They are referring to Russia, where the absolute numbers remain very high despite a great downward trend in the last decade as contraception is adopted more widely, and to Western Europe, where they are rock-bottom low.

What's great news, what I really wish they had picked up on, is that overall worldwide abortion numbers in developed nations have been cut by 40% between 1995 and 2003, with the sharpest decline in Eastern Europe (includes Russia) where it went from 90 per 1000 women to 44 per 1000, with a simultaneous increase in contraception use. There was a modest decline in Australia, but only negligable declines in US and Canada.

The sad contrast is that in the developing world the numbers have held stable. I think this represents that lack of control that women have over their sexuality and the lack of medical care to provide contraception.

I would also be very interested in Orah's research question: how do we compare these rates in light of limited or unsafe access? How does one weight the maths of a woman prostituting herself for an unsafe abortion against a woman being assured of a medically competent provider and confidentiality?

My personal favorite solution has to do with micro-loans and providing support for women in developing nations to become financially independant so they can control their lives and provide cultural stability. The guy that invented those won the Nobel Prize for Economics this year; I think he should have been nominated for Peace & Medicine as well because the kind of lasting stability and empowerment he's creating will be a long-term preventive to so many problems. When women have earning power, the kids get education, local sanitation improves, and many desperate motives dissolve.

Anyhow, despite the hairy math it was a good paper now that I've finally read it - I hope some others have skimmed it! If all you want is the digestion, skip to page 6 and start reading Discussion, halfway down on the left.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-11-2005
Sun, 10-21-2007 - 4:11pm


beautiful horse, having just spent 6 working down at the horse racing track~~looking at all of those wonderful horses, I'm horsey again.

~Sam (they won't let near the horse either, I would of feed them apples,carrots and turned them into expensive pets, so they made me stay in my bus all summer)

~~Sam stitches well with others, runs with scissors in her pocket. Cheerful and stupid.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2004
Mon, 10-22-2007 - 10:14am
there is a HUGE problem with all the data being presented IMO/People do not freely admit illegal activities. We have no way of knowing how many people had an abortion in great aunt sue's bathroom with the aid of herbs and lord knows what else. We only know how many people admitted to it. It is easier to gather info in NA where the procedure is regulated and legal.

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