Anti-Abortion Laws May Be Doing More Harm Than Good: Study

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Anti-Abortion Laws May Be Doing More Harm Than Good: Study

Abortion is highly stigmatized in most of the world. Nonetheless, a lot of pregnant women still turn to this procedure for various personal reasons / Photo by: Robin Marty via Wikimedia Commons

 

Abortion is highly stigmatized in most of the world. Nonetheless, a lot of pregnant women still turn to this procedure for various personal reasons. Across the globe, an estimated one in four pregnancies ends in an abortion annually. Although a lot of people see abortion as something that goes against the very essence of life, activists believe that it should be basic healthcare for millions of women and girls.

Abortion Unfiltered, an organization working to protect women and children from the violence of abortion through education and peer-to-peer engagement, estimated that approximately 56 million abortions occurred each year worldwide between 2010 and 2014. However, abortion is not guaranteed for those who need it simply because countries have laws against the procedure.

 

Unsafe Abortions Due to Laws

Laws in Georgia and Ohio aim to end abortion access at six weeks. Alabama recently announced a near-total ban while Texas has proposed several bans. Missouri proposed an eight-week ban. Unfortunately, early pregnancy abortions are not new. According to an article by Vox, an American news and opinion website, a lot of attempts to have these bans codified into law have failed.

With laws preventing women’s access to abortion, the risk of unsafe abortions is high in many countries. According to the World Health Organization, an average of 65 million induced (safe and unsafe) abortions occurred worldwide each year between 2010 and 2017. There were 35 induced abortions per 1,000 women between 15 to 44 years old. It was reported that about seven million women are admitted to hospitals annually in developing nations as a result of unsafe abortion. 

Laws in Georgia and Ohio aim to end abortion access at six weeks. Alabama recently announced a near-total ban while Texas has proposed several bans / Photo by: Jim Bowen via Flickr

 

These figures show that regardless of what the law says, women would have an abortion depending on their circumstances. Guttmacher Institute, a US-based reproductive health non-profit, reported that the abortion rate is 37 per 1,000 people in nations that prohibit altogether or allow it only in instances to save a woman’s life. A lot of women don’t know that abortions are one of the safest medical procedures available when undertaken by a trained healthcare provider in sanitary conditions. It is even safer than childbirth.

Abortion only gets dangerous when governments restrict its access to women. They are forced to resort to unsafe and clandestine abortion procedures that are affordable but not necessarily effective.

Too Many Unsafe Abortions

In a 2017 report, WHO revealed that 25 million abortions, which accounts for 45 percent of all abortions, happened between 2010 and 2014 across the world. About 97 percent of these unsafe abortions occurred in developing countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. 

Dr. Bela Ganatra, the lead author of the study and a scientist in the WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research, said, “Increased efforts are needed, especially in developing regions, to ensure access to contraception and safe abortion. When women and girls cannot access effective contraception and safe abortion services, there are serious consequences for their own health and that of their families. This should not happen. But despite recent advances in technology and evidence, too many unsafe abortions still occur, and too many women continue to suffer and die.”

The risk of severe complications in abortions can be prevented when they are performed under WHO guidelines and standards. Ensuring a safe abortion requires skills and medical standards. Since there are abortion bans, women don’t have access to this or even informed about this. Most of the time, abortions become dangerous when they are done using outdated methods like sharp curettage. They also involve ingestion of caustic substances or untrained people who use unsafe methods of traditional concoctions.

Women living in low-income nations and marginalized communities are more likely to have an unsafe abortion. They are more prone to major life-threatening complications, such as injury to the genital tract and internal organs, infection, and hemorrhage. It can also lead to other complications, such as uterine perforation, incomplete abortion, and many more.

Unsafe Abortions Can Harm Everyone’s Health

Amnesty International, a London-based, non-governmental organization focused on human rights, reported that deaths and injuries from unsafe abortions are preventable, saving the lives of millions of women around the world. Access to safe abortion services is also a human right. Women have the right to decide on their own body. What people don’t understand is that unsafe abortions and laws banning the procedure not only affects women but also the economy. A 2006 report showed that an estimated $553 million was spent treating serious consequences of unsafe abortion.

A recent study published in the American Sociological Review showed that new abortion laws are contributing to sexist environments. The researcher measured a new concept called “structural sexism” or the degree of systematic gender inequality in power and resources to which someone is exposed to determine if the consequences of restricted abortion access can be felt by an entire society. The impacts on women are very much visible. For instance, living in a more sexist environment is likely to reduce women access to high-quality healthcare, autonomy and social support, financial resources, and many more.

However, it can also harm everyone in society. According to an article by Phys.org, an internet news portal that provides the latest news on science, structural sexism in state environments can increase competition for dominance, damage social relationships, and make the entire society less safe, less productive, and less healthy.

Amnesty International reported that deaths and injuries from unsafe abortions are preventable, saving the lives of millions of women around the world / Photo by: hhach via Pixabay

 

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