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Lives on the Line: Unsafe Abortion Around the World

Written By: Melanie Abrahams
October 22, 2010

 

Akimbo has devoted this entire week to global access to safe abortion, and we’re hoping the attention helps stir conversation and build support for greater access for all women. To wrap up, let’s take a look at the risks women are facing around the globe when they seek to terminate a pregnancy.

Asia and the Middle East
While the rate of safe abortion has declined from 1995 to 2003, the rate of unsafe abortion has stayed almost static—which means a greater percentage of women who seek abortions are turning to unskilled practitioners than they were before. In 2003, nearly 26 million abortions were performed in the region—and about 10 million of those were performed by an unskilled practitioner or in unsafe conditions. IWHC partner group CommonHealth in India and other organizations across the region are working to give women in their countries better access.

Latin America and the Caribbean
Abortion for any reason is completely outlawed in only a few countries and territories in the world, and most of them are in Latin America and the Caribbean. Many other countries in the region impose heavy restrictions over legal access. Despite governmental and religious attempts to rid the region of abortion through law and stigma, 4.1 million abortions—virtually all of them unsafe—were  performed in 2003 across Latin American and the Caribbean. Still, there is hope: recent loosening of abortion laws in Colombia and Mexico City led to an immediate increase in safe, legal abortions in those places, and women’s health advocates like our partners at Catholics for the Right to Decide continue to fight for more liberal laws around the region.

Africa
The number of abortions performed in Africa rose dramatically from 1995 to 2003, yet about 92 percent of women of childbearing age there live in countries with restrictive abortion laws.  Of the 5.6 million abortions performed in 2003, only 100,000 were done under safe conditions. Many groups, including IWHC partner organization, the Campaign Against Unwanted Pregnancy in Nigeria, are bravely advocating for more liberal abortion laws and greater access to safe services across the region.

This week on Akimbo, we published a bunch of great resources about access to safe abortion around the world. Check them out!

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