|Unsafe abortions cost lives and money
[ 2006-11-06 09:38 ]
Tens of thousands of women die annually from abortions performed in unsanitary conditions by poorly
trained personnel. That's according to University of North Carolina
researcher David Grimes, who compiled global data in order to gauge the
scope of the problem.
He says unsafe abortion overwhelmingly affects women in the developing
world. "The estimates are that worldwide, there may be about 19 to 20
million unsafe abortions, and about 18 million of these occur in
developing countries, divided between Africa and Asia." Grimes says unsafe
abortions are also a maternal health issue in Latin America, where many
countries have outlawed the procedure.
He estimates about 68,000 women die each year in countries with little
or no access to abortion. Hundreds of thousands more face severe and
sometimes life-threatening complications to their health. "The
complications are both short and long term," he points out. "In the short
run, infection is a very common outcome as is trauma to the genital tract,
for example perforations of the uterus, perforation of the cervix and so
forth. These kinds of infections are an important cause of infertility in
developing countries." Grimes also says the cost of caring for women with
complications from unsafe abortions taxes the medical systems in poor
Grimes led an international team of researchers that used data from the
World Health Organization and other sources to compile the analysis. They
also looked at mortality trends in countries that have legalized abortion.
Grimes says they found maternal death rates dropped dramatically after
laws changed, citing South Africa as an example. "When South Africa
recently liberalized access to abortion, the mortality rates from unsafe
abortion in South Africa dropped 90 percent almost overnight."
Grimes says unsafe abortion is an important public health issue that
must be addressed, even as he acknowledges that the debate over the
morality of abortion will continue. The analysis appears in the British
journal The Lancet as part of a series on international women's health.
abortion : induced
termination of pregnancy