Thursday, October 15, 2009

Criminalizing abortion doesn't decrease numbers!

Remember when I told you that the level of a country’s women’s health care directly correlates to its feminist movement (yet another handy factoid learned at the Feminist Majority’s Women, Money, Power Summit?) Well, it seems as if our panelists were onto something because the theme proves true yet again.

For quite some time, the Guttmacher Institute has been researching the relation in a country's abortion rights and its number of abortions.

This week, the results were set. The data showed that the legal status doesn’t change numbers; roughly the same amount of women was getting the procedure under both liberal and heavy restrictions. The big variable was women's access to contraception and family planning.

So, giving women the tools to decide when and if they want children affects the number of unwanted pregnancies. Funny how it works out like that, huh?!?

This is not to say that the legal status of abortion doesn’t change anything. We have seen time and time again those countries with heavy abortion restrictions (40% of the world’s women!) tend to be developing countries, where illegal and unsafe abortions aren’t hard to find, but the difference in the care and health of the woman before and after the procedure is immense.

Because women try to seek alternatives through unsafe abortions, 700,000 deaths occur each year. Also, consider the other five million who are left with medical complications after the fact.

The Guttmacher Institute walks out from their research with three areas of improvement: increased access to modern family planning, access to legal and safe abortions and access to post-abortion care.

photo credits: willem_velthoven from

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