28th September is International Safe Abortion Day – the annual day of action to support the right to safe abortion. The day was first celebrated as a day of action for the decriminalization of abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean in 1990 by the Campaña 28 Septiembre. In 2011, the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) declared 28 September as an international day. (Wikipedia)
My post is not based on moral discussions about abortions. My intention in writing this is to create an awareness of abortion and start a discussion on how the laws are affecting the lives of millions of women.
As per the International Conference on Population and Development 1994, “Every individual has the right to decide freely and responsibly–without discrimination, coercion and violence–the number, spacing and timing of their children, and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health.”
Although abortion is a common experience around the world, it is still largely stigmatised. Negative attitudes and religious beliefs about abortion prevent people from accessing safe services and make it difficult for people to share their experiences with others.
Safe abortion is being denied worldwide to women due to
- Restrictive legal binders
- Unawareness of one’s rights
- Limited access to facilities
- Unavailability of qualified professionals
- High cost
- Stigma and a lack of awareness
- The conscientious objection of health-care providers
- Unnecessary requirements, such as mandatory waiting periods, mandatory counselling, provision of misleading information, third-party authorization, and medically unnecessary tests that delay care.
Let me share some numbers. I found the shocking and unbelievable!
41 percent of women live in countries that have restrictive abortion laws.
Can you believe that?!
- There are 26 countries where abortion is COMPLETELY BANNED. 90 million women (5%) of reproductive age live in these regions. It isn’t permitted in cases of rape or even when the woman’s life or health is at risk.
- There are 39 countries where abortion is ALLOWED IN CASE THE PREGNANT WOMAN’S LIFE IS AT RISK. 360 million (22%) women of reproductive age live in these countries.
- 14 countries allow abortion BASED ON SOCIAL OR ECONOMIC GROUNDS. 386 million (23%) of women of reproductive age live in these countries. India is part of this band. Abortion is legal in India for various reasons, except sex selection.
- 56 countries permit abortion BASED ON HEALTH OR THERAPEUTIC GROUNDS. 225 million (14%) women of reproductive age live in these countries.
- 36% of women live in 72 countries that allow ABORTION ON REQUEST.
Not permitting abortion or having restrictive laws against them does not help women. They cause more harm and push women to turn towards illegal and unsafe abortion methods–like the procedure being carried out by an untrained person or in a medically inappropriate environment.
- Every year almost half of all pregnancies – 121 million – are unintended. Of these, 6 out of 10 pregnancies end in induced abortion.
- 3 out of all 10 of ALL pregnancies ends in induced abortion
- Around 45% of all abortions, about 25 million globally are performed under unsafe conditions.
- 4.7% to 13.2% of maternal deaths, close to 23,000 women die each year because of unsafe abortion.
According to WHO, women with unintended pregnancies rely on abortion even in settings where abortion is restricted. Generally speaking, abortion rates are similar in countries where abortion is broadly legal and in those where it is restricted (40 per 1 000 women and 36 per 1 000 women, respectively).
Keeping aside the moral aspects of the subject, shouldn’t every woman or girl, (including those who identify as transgender, genderqueer, nonbinary, and other gender – nonconforming people who can get pregnant) be free to decide whether she wishes to continue with the pregnancy?
Isn’t it time we redefine these archaic laws and give the power to decide to the women who stand to gain or lose out of this?