How is it possible that U.S. foreign aid, which does so much good around the world, can also prevent a woman from receiving an abortion that is legal in her own country?
There is much we can learn from our sisters in the Global South who, rather than trying to gain access to services that all too often do not exist or fail to treat them well, are obtaining pills to induce abortion and taking them at home without seeing a health provider.
Culture is one of the most sensitive aspects of people’s lives, particularly as it relates to sexual and reproductive behavior, attitudes, and norms. Therefore, when we talk about female circumcision (I still cannot call it mutilation), we should always look at this cultural practice as one of many good and bad things that happen to women universally, and not only to African women but women worldwide.
African countries are too often lumped together as one big composite of grave statistics and chronic epidemics. Because of this, it’s especially important that the global development and reproductive health communities recognize and amplify those success stories that can be told. Ethiopia is one of them.
Currently, more than 215 million women around the world want access to quality reproductive health care but don’t have it. Global investment in international reproductive health and voluntary family planning is one of the best ways to save maternal and infant lives, and build sustainable communities. But on a recent trip to Ethiopia, I saw firsthand how limited financial resources, inadequate systems and supply chains, and poor coordination often keep contraceptives from getting into the hands of those who desperately want and need them.
If budget negotiations lead to re-instatement of the Global Gag Rule, it will not reduce the deficit one penny. It will instead eviscerate family planning and force providers to choose between U.S. funding and serving women in need.
There is global consensus on the need for improved access to quality and sustainable fistula care and training services; postoperative social-reintegration services; additional research and consistent allocation of resources for this cause.
How much does unsafe abortion cost national health systems? This is exactly the question that a group of medical experts and health researchers set out to answer in 2007, using the example of the east African country Ethiopia.
In another global roundup, a quick look at access to family planning around the world.
Ethiopia is leading the way in reducing maternal deaths from unsafe abortion through liberalized abortion laws and changes in the health care system. Still, only one-fourth of all abortions in the country are safe and legal.