This Is Why Abortion Needs To Be Legal Worldwide

57m women a year are having them, let’s make ALL of them safe…


by Sophie Wilkinson |

How do you stop something like abortion? Well, you invent a 100% reliable, secure and safe contraception, and ensure men, as well as women, take full responsibility for their sex lives and the impact of intercourse. The thing is, that’s not happening any time soon, and may never do, so until that day, abortion is a valuable necessity to millions of women who, for whatever reason, are pregnant and don’t want to be anymore.

How do you stop something like unsafe abortions? You legalise abortions. This is what the World Health Organisation has called for, after a major piece of research it conducted showed that almost half of abortions worldwide are not safe.

WATCH NOW: Choosing Change: Meet The Women Fighting For Abortion Rights In Northern Ireland

Between 2010 and 2014, there were 55.7 million abortions per year, worldwide. But of these, 25 million were unsafe. That’s the population of London, times three, every year, potentially suffering the impacts of an unsafe abortion. The abortions are considered ‘unsafe’ either because the woman was taking pills alone without proper advice, or was with a trained helper administering a surgical abortion using, at best, outdated methods.

That’s the polite way of putting it. The grisly truth is that women are still swallowing toxic substances in order to miscarry or having wires put into them to dislodge a foetus. This is not how things are done in a medical or surgical abortion, but it is how some of the world’s most disadvantaged women are treated in lieu of decent healthcare.

The results were split into continents, and show that Africa has the largest proportion of ‘least safe’ abortions, with Oceania coming second in this abysmal league table, Latin America next and with Asia coming last. Europe and North America didn’t even rank for ‘least safe’ abortions. Deaths are highest in west and central Africa, at around 450 women per 100,000 abortions. This is down to unsafe abortion methods.

Experts say that the Mexico City policy, reimposed by Donald Trump, has not reduced the number of abortions. 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. Even, say, a tiny African charity counselling women on abortion will have its funds from the US cut.

The WHO study also showed that - shock horror - in countries where abortions are safe, fewer of them take place. 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.’

Dr Bela Gunatra, lead author of the study, said that resources are no longer as much of a problem, owing to the availability - at least, in theory - of medical, pill-induced abortions. She explained to The Guardian: ‘It can be provided at primary healthcare level…there is nothing that requires this to be highly resourced. It is not science that is holding back the progress but barriers in terms of stigma and law.’

The solution? Dr Gunatra says: ‘Increasing the availability, accessibility and affordability of contraception can reduce the incidence of unintended pregnancies, and therefore abortions, but it is essential to combine this strategy with interventions to ensure access to safe abortions.’ First things first, though, let's sort out the stigma and laws surrounding women's abortion rights. If Ireland, a Catholic country, can look set to legalise it, why not all the Catholic countries in South America? And if Catholic countries can do it, why not all Christian countries, or all Muslim countries or all Hindi or Buddhist or Sikh countries? How about the whole entire world, for that matter?

You might also be interested in:

Half Of Abortions Happened Because Of Faulty Contraception

No, Ryanair Isn't Stopping Women Getting Abortions

Abortion In Ireland: A Referendum Has Been Announced For 2018

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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