The issue of safety in the abortion debate | Political economics

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Aabortion is a public health problem in addition to being a sensitive issue with religious, moral, cultural and political dimensions. More than a quarter of the world’s population lives in countries where the procedure is only allowed in cases of rape, incest, fetal abnormalities or to save the life of the pregnant person. Abortions still occur in these countries, nearly half of them unsafe, performed by unqualified practitioners or in unsanitary conditions, or both.

Unsafe abortions claim the lives of tens of thousands of women around the world each year and leave many times the lives with chronic and often irreversible physical and mental health problems that strain the resources of public health systems. However, the controversy often overshadows the impact on public health. It is estimated that 73 million abortions occur worldwide each year. Unsafe abortions account for up to 13% of pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths worldwide. Worldwide, at least 7 million women are treated each year for complications from unsafe abortions.

The United States Supreme Court recently overturned Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. From now on, the question will be settled State by State. 22 states are considered likely to quickly ban most abortions. Some states have since passed laws to restrict late-term abortions, require parental notification for minors, and mandate disclosure of information about abortion risks to patients before the procedure.

Abortion has long been a contentious issue in the United States and one that sharply divides Americans along partisan, ideological, and religious lines. According to a May 2022 Gallup update on Americans’ views on abortion, 35% of American adults think abortion should be legal “in all circumstances”, 50% say it should be legal “only in certain circumstances” and 13% say it should be. illegal in all circumstances. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 61% of American adults said abortion should be legal all or most of the time, while 37% said it should be illegal all or most of the time. time.

In the Western world, the abortion debate revolves both around whether a woman has the right to control her body and her fertility and whether the fetus should be considered a “person” with the same rights as the others or simply as an organ or a collection of cells.

In English-speaking countries, the debate is most visibly polarized around supporters of the self-proclaimed “pro-choice” and “pro-life” movements. Pro-choicers emphasize a woman’s right to bodily autonomy, while pro-lifers argue that a fetus is a human being deserving of legal protection, independent of the mother’s control.

Since abortion is legal only in extraordinary circumstances, women seeking abortions frequently submit to street clinics where services are often provided with dangerous procedures. It is feared that poor women in particular will be forced to rely on untrained practitioners.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 73 million induced abortions occur worldwide each year. It states that 61% of all unwanted pregnancies and 29% of all pregnancies in general end in abortion. The WHO also maintains a database of each country’s abortion laws, policies and levels of support in the health system. The last 50 years have been characterized by a clear trend towards the liberalization of abortion laws, particularly in the industrialized world.

Access to safe abortion has been established as a human right in many international frameworks. At the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, 179 governments signed a program of action that included a commitment to prevent unsafe abortions. The WHO first recognized unsafe abortion as a public health problem in 1967. In 2003, it developed technical and policy guidelines that include a recommendation that states adopt abortion laws to protect women’s health. Nearly 90% of abortions in countries with liberal abortion laws are considered safe, compared to only 25% of abortions in countries where abortion is banned. According to the WHO, approximately 5-13% of maternal deaths worldwide are due to complications from unsafe abortions, the vast majority of which occur in developing countries.

Abortions have been legal in India under various circumstances for 50 years since the introduction of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act in 1971. The law was amended in 2003 to allow women to access medical services. safe and legal abortion. Taking advantage of this permission, more than 2,000 unborn girls are illegally aborted every day in India. As a result, there are fewer than 93 females for every 100 males in the population. Poverty, dowry system, malformed infants, starvation and lack of support services are some of the causes of female infanticide in India.

In 2002, there were approximately 2.4 million unintended pregnancies in Pakistan. Nearly 900,000 of them were terminated by induced abortion. Since abortions are only legal in specific circumstances, women seeking abortions submit to street clinics where services are often provided with unsafe procedures. It is feared that poor women in particular will be forced to rely on untrained practitioners. A national survey of public sector facilities estimated that approximately 200,000 women were hospitalized for abortion-related complications in 2002. Many other women may have suffered complications but never reached hospitals or reported them to health providers.

It is claimed that many married women and their husbands have difficulty obtaining contraception or using it effectively. Abortion is then resorted to in the event of unwanted pregnancies.


The writer is a freelance playwright and journalist and can be reached at [email protected] and his blog site: soulandland.com


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