Nearly half of abortions 'unsafe'

Posted September 29, 2017

Deaths are highest in west and central Africa, at around 450 women per 100,000 abortions.

Close to half of the approximately 56 million abortions performed every year worldwide are unsafe, researchers said Wednesday in a study.

The study was conducted by World Health Organization in partnership with the american institute Guttmacher, specialized in birth control. They concluded that both the number of abortions and the number of unsafe abortions have gone up. "Complications from "least-safe" abortions can include incomplete abortion (failure to remove all of the pregnancy tissue from the uterus), haemorrhage, vaginal, cervical and uterine injury, and infections", the study stated. This is the case if they are carried out by a trained staff, but with a method that is dated (such as curettage), or the opposite direction with safe means (including the use of misoprostol, a drug widely used), but in the absence of competent staff.

According to the study, nearly one-third (31 per cent) of abortions were "less safe", meaning they were performed either by a trained provider using an unsafe or outdated method such as "sharp curettage", or by an untrained person even if using a safe method like misoprostol, a drug used for many medical purposes, including to induce an abortion.

Almost half of the estimated 56 million abortions performed worldwide every year are unsafe and women in poor countries face even higher risks due to USA funding cuts to family planning programs overseas, health experts say.

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Meanwhile, 30.7% of all abortions (12.1 million) were put into the less safe category.

In developed countries, 87.5% of abortions are considered " safe ".

The highest proportions of safe abortions were seen in countries with less restrictive laws, high economic development and well developed infrastructures.

The percentage of abortions that were safe in low-income countries.

Dr Bela Gunatra, lead author of the study, said that resources are no longer as much of a problem, owing to the availability - at least, in theory - of medical, pill-induced abortions.

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Provision of safe, legal abortion is essential to fulfilling the global commitment to the Sustainable Development Goal of universal access to sexual and reproductive health (target 3.7).

The research offers evidence that women around the world continue to have abortions even when they live in areas where trained providers are scant and where the procedure is illegal.

To prevent unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions, countries must make supportive policies and financial commitments to provide comprehensive sexuality education; a wide range of contraceptive methods, including emergency contraception; accurate family planning counselling; and access to safe, legal abortion.

"This study gives us the first global estimates of how often women are able to find safe abortions, even if they are not getting legal abortions". Similarly, it can be extremely hard for doctors to distinguish between complications caused by miscarriage and induced abortion.

They say women may die as a result of more serious complications because of the risky methods used to bring about an abortion - and their health services may then not have the skills or resources to treat them.

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