Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Reproductive Rights - from the US to Tanzania!

I start my day reading a variety of news sources--from gossip sites to more reputable online newspapers, including the New York Times. For some reason, I am drawn to the New York Times Health page, and yesterday I found an interesting and upsetting piece about the impact illegal abortions have on the women of Tanzania, confirming the importance of global reproductive rights for women. In the aftermath of Dr. Tiller’s death, it is important to not only look at policies concerning abortion in the US and around the world.

In Tanzania, hundreds of women suffer the deadly consequences of botched or incomplete abortions, misinformation about contraceptives, and a health care system that is ill-prepared to help with the reproductive health needs of women. The majority of women in rural Tanzanian hospitals are being treated for complications from botched abortions, and East Africa has one of the highest rates of unsafe abortions.

It is clear that women will have abortions whether they are legal or not, and assuming that most governments are not setting a goal of killing women, it is almost incomprehensible why any government wouldn't seriously evaluate their policies on abortion. Abortions are only legal in Tanzania to save the life of the mother. Shouldn't, then, all abortions be legal because legal abortions provided by qualified and educated health professionals save the lives of women?

If one of the goals of health care and government is to protect and save the lives of all people, then why is there legislation that makes abortions illegal and most certainly condemns thousands of women to death? To me, Tanzania stands as a shining example of just how necessary reproductive rights are for the basic survival of women.

- Ellen Saliares, FMF Summer Intern

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