Report: Unsafe abortions kill 70,000 annually

Report: Unsafe abortions kill 70,000 annually (AP)
A doctor examines a pregnant woman at a government run hospital in Katmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009. The number of abortions worldwide has fallen significantly in tandem with increased use of contraceptives, but unsafe abortion remains a persistent problem killing 70,000 women a year, a research institute reported Tuesday in a major global survey. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
(AP) -- Increased contraceptive use has led to fewer abortions worldwide, but deaths from unsafe abortion remain a severe problem, killing 70,000 women a year, a research institute reported Tuesday in a major global survey.

More than half the deaths, about 38,000, are in sub-Saharan Africa, which was singled out as the region with by far the lowest rates of contraceptive use and the highest rates of unintended pregnancies.

The report, three years in the making, was compiled by the New York-based Guttmacher Institute, which supports rights and is a leading source of data on abortion-related trends. Researchers examined data from individual countries and multinational organizations.

The institute's president, Sharon Camp, said she was heartened by the overall trends since Guttmacher conducted a similar survey in 1999, yet expressed concern about the gap revealed in the new report.

"In almost all developed countries, abortion is safe and legal," she said. "But in much of the developing world, abortion remains highly restricted, and unsafe abortion is common and continues to damage women's health and threaten their survival."

The report calls for further easing of developing nations' abortion laws, a move criticized by Deirdre McQuade, a policy director with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.

"We need to be much more creative in assisting with supportive services so they don't need to resort to the unnatural act of abortion," she said.

Guttmacher estimated previously that the number of abortions worldwide fell from 45.5 million in 1995 to 41.6 million in 2003 - the latest year for which global figures were available.

A key reason for that drop, the new report said, was that the portion of married women using contraception increased from 54 percent in 1990 to 63 percent in 2003 as availability increased and social mores changed. Guttmacher's researchers said contraceptive use had increased in every major region, but still lagged badly in Africa - used by only 28 percent of married women there, compared with at least 68 percent in other major regions.

The report notes that abortions worldwide are declining even as more countries liberalize their abortion laws. Since 1997, it said, only three countries - Poland, Nicaragua and El Salvador - substantially increased restrictions on abortion, while laws were eased significantly in 19 countries and regions, including Cambodia, Nepal and Mexico City.

Despite this trend, the report said 40 percent of the world's women live in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws, virtually all of them in the developing world. This category includes 92 percent of the women in Africa and 97 percent in Latin America, it said.

The survey concluded that abortion occurs at roughly equal rates in countries where it is legal and where it is highly restricted. The key difference, according to the report, is the high rate of deaths and medical complications from unsafe clandestine abortions in the restrictive countries.

"Legal restrictions do not stop abortion from happening. They just make the procedure dangerous," Camp said. "Too many women are maimed or killed each year because they lack legal abortion access."

In one example, the report told of a Nigerian woman named Victoria who first tried to induce an abortion by drinking an herbal concoction, then consulted a traditional healer who inserted leaves in her vagina that caused internal injuries.

The report estimated that 19.7 million of the 41.6 million abortions in 2003 were unsafe - either self-induced, performed by unskilled practitioners or carried out in unhygienic surroundings.

"Almost all of them occurred in less developed countries with restrictive abortion laws," said the report, which estimated that - beyond the tens of thousands of women killed annually from unsafe abortions - another 8 million women suffer complications because of them.

The report makes three major recommendations:

-Expand access to modern contraceptives and improve family planning services.

-Expand access to legal abortion and ensure that safe, legal abortion services are available to women in need.

-Improve the coverage and quality of post-abortion care, which would reduce maternal death and complications from unsafe abortion.

Camp, in an interview, said sub-Saharan Africa is the area of greatest concern to Guttmacher and like-minded groups. The status of women remains low in many of those countries, she said, while political and religious conservatives block efforts to liberalize abortion laws.

Although the Vatican remains officially opposed to use of contraceptives, Camp said her institute had detected a shift in approach.

"The Catholic Church has informally at least stopped fighting against contraception to the degree it once did and put more of its energies into fighting abortion," she said. "On the ground there are priests and nuns who refer people to family planning services."

McQuade, of the Catholic Bishops Conference, said any priest or nun making such referrals was veering from church policy. She contended that use of artificial contraception could increase a women's health risks and said they would fare better using natural family planning methods approved by the church.

Overall, the report is "a good news/bad news story," said Susan Cohen, the Guttmacher Institute's director of government affairs, who hailed the decline in abortions and unintended pregnancies.

"The bad news is that where most of the poor women live, throughout the , unsafe abortion remains high, and women are dying as a result of it," she said. "It's so preventable, and that's the tragedy."


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User comments

Oct 14, 2009
Safe abortions kill how many babies a year? How many lives are lost to safe abortions? A baby is a person, just like a black man is a person, just like a jew is a person...

Oct 15, 2009
Isnt it strange that people go up in arms if a few people are killed by a product and call for recalls etc to remove the risk of death for a few people, yet a BILLION babies have been killed since the 1950s.

Oct 15, 2009
otto1923 one billion people are hungry, whats your solution? One solution is to kill another billion people? If we kill all the hungry people there will be no more hungry people... problem solved with that solution.

My solution however would be to eliminate corruption (the #1 cause of hunger), encourage democracy (interesting isnt it that most hungry people live in dictatorships).

BTW killing a billion hungry people today, without eliminating corruption, will result in a billion people taking their place within a very short time.

Oct 16, 2009
otto1923 I choose life and liberty and freedom. You have things backwards. First comes corruption, then comes dictatorships, then comes poverty, then comes starvation. If there was no corruption (dictatorships and corruption are always hand in hand) then food aid could flow to starving people. Food in the belly allows planning for the future. Which allows for economic growth.

You need to take a looks at stats, Rwanda and Liberia have less population per square mile, and have a larger growing region than does many eruopean countries. Gaza is supported and if there wasnt corruption there wouldnt even be hunger there.

As for the Weimar republic corruption, then dictatorship...

As for the USA first comes corruption (Republican or Democrat who cares) ACORN, SCIU, Communists, etc... (Power corrupts)... If we dont fight corruption, if we dont hold our leaders accountable (dems or repubs) then comes dictatorship, then comes starvation...

Oct 16, 2009
Christians believe that one day Jesus will take the reigns and he will rule alone, and as Christians think He is perfect, His rule would be perfect. So If your position is from a Christian point of view we can agree. Till then Christians believe no ruler will ever be infallable and is prone to evil. The only way to prevent and limit the destruction of evil rulers is having people control the Government, Split the powers of the Government, have checks and balances, have free and open press, (hey sounds a lot like the US constitution..., keep the people informed.

BTW, Ive worked in Russia, have had family who lived in a communist country (germany) and who were communists and even spys for the secret police, and I visisted East Germany when the wall was up, I have lived in Germany since then. Know people who do relief work in Africa. So I am not uninformed. I know corruption what it does. I know what it is like to live under communism. I know the fear of saying the wrong thing

Oct 16, 2009
In communism, dictatorship, you are aways afraid. In addition, communism saps the life out of people. Why work hard, hard work is not rewarded. Why care about your environment as you dont own it. Take a look at the pollution map, the worst places for pollution are ares where communism or dictatorships rule.

Communism and dictatorship brings us down to the level of animals. Democracy, while not perfect, allows people to live without fear of their government.

Im not sure if you really believe what you say, but if you do, I feel sorry for you.

Oct 16, 2009
socialism...was freedom. She was not burdened with choosing a career or planning her future
one day Jesus will take the reigns and he will rule

This conversation has summed up nicely why America is failing. People are so terrified of taking responsibility for their own life (a.k.a. living a.k.a. dieing) that they wait for either a self-serving government or a non-existant god to fix everything. Of course nothing happens to improve their lot in either case.

Oct 17, 2009
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Oct 17, 2009
actually the report should say unsafe aboutions kills 140,000 annually. 70K women, 70K babies.

Oct 17, 2009
For the most part abortion is what people use to avoid the responsibility of their irresponsible actions. For the most part all abortions are murder, yes there are some exceptions but they really are a trivial minority among the thousands performed.

Oct 17, 2009
Abortions are a symptom of an unwanted pregnancy. Solve the problem of unwanted pregnancies and you won't have to worry about abortion.

Unfortunately, solving that problem requires education and release from religious dogma. Good luck with that.

Oct 18, 2009
problem is not with religious dogma, but with irresponsible actions.

Oct 18, 2009
Really, 40,000. And the women don't fear having abortions? This is hog wash. First of all, women wouldn't go for abortions if there were such a high chance of death. Secondly, way more babies are dying from safe abortions!!! This is normal propaganda from pro-abortion sources trying to push the abortion agenda. Fortunately, women are starting to learn that these "statistics" are phoney.

Oct 19, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Oct 19, 2009
Rapists and Molesters are at least judged to be guilty. I find it sad that people will defend the rights of a rapist, and will argue that they should not be given the death penalty, but they have no qualm to kill without a trial the baby produced.

I consider jews, blacks, whites, conservatives, liberals, old, young, babies born and unborn fully human.

It is interesting that Margaret Sanger the founder of Planned Parenthood was a racist and a believer of eugenics. Her views and the nazi's view of race and eugenics were very similar. Its extremely difficult to say all humans are valuable and be a racist or a supporter of eugenics. But for those who believe in abortion how hard is it to say blacks, or jews are not fully human? If you consider one group of people subhuman, whats to prevent you from believing another group is subhuman?

Oct 20, 2009
In Canada, speaking the truth is no defense against being hauled in front of the human rights tribunal. On Physorg, its getting very hard to speak the truth. If your facts are correct, your censored...

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