Abortion: Major women killer

0100 hrs (IST) July 31, Bangalore

As many as six million unsafe abortions take place in south Asia each year claiming the lives of 33,000 women and pose a serious health problem for the fairer sex in the region.

In India, where abortion is legal, six out of seven abortions are considered unsafe. One of the leading causes of pregnancy-related deaths was unsafe abortion, thus accounting for a significant proportion of maternal mortality, in which south Asia heads the global list.

An estimated 99 % of the deaths caused by unsafe abortions occur in developing countries. The report said that in developing countries, every year 17.62 million unsafe abortions take place, of which 69,000 women die. Asia alone accounts for 9.24 million unsafe abortions and 40,000 deaths while the developed world had to its credit, 2.34 million unsafe abortions and 600 deaths.

According to a study carried out by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), if abortions were performed under safe conditions, thousands of women could be saved.

One of the most striking and tragic indicators of the unmet needs for contraceptive facilities is the women’s reliance on induced abortion as a method of fertility control, according to a report on sexual and reproductive health needs and challenges in south Asia.

However, this is just a small part of the story. For every unsafe abortion carried out, a high level of morbidity is often the result, the report said, adding that this would leave women with abortion related disabilities and ill health.

The IPPF has been working since 1996 with the regional family planning associations to reduce unsafe abortions in the region.

If adequate counseling and contraceptive backup were provided, repeated abortions could be prevented, resulting ultimately in a massive decrease in maternal mortality and prolonged and multiple morbidity.


This article originally appeared in eIndia, July 31, 2000.