Reducing maternal deaths from unsafe abortion is one of the most straight-forward public health problems to remedy. But this can never be fully realized unless governments start including abortion in realistic approaches to protecting women’s health.
After more than a hundred years of legally allowing women access to a therapeutic abortion, in October 2006 the Nicaraguan National Assembly banned this procedure in all circumstances. Now women’s health groups are working to mitigate the damage.
Illegal abortions are one of the top ten causes of maternal death in Jamaica. Safe, legal abortions are only accessible to those who can afford one. Existing abortion “common law” in Jamaica is ambiguous and differs than legislation on the books. Jamaica is in the midst of a heated abortion debate.
Many pregnant women and girls are virtually forced to become abortion tourists. Though the term is often used in sexist and disparaging ways, what it really reveals is that women’s reproductive health needs are being ignored.
Despite the new wave of "feminist" anti-abortion crusaders like Feminists for Life that spin legal abortion in this country as unsafe or harmful to women, the facts tell a very different story. As Tyler LePard and Katie Porter blogged last month, The British Journal, The Lancet, released a series of articles on sexual and reproductive health, coordinated by the World Health Organization. The study on unsafe abortion in developing nations called it a "silent pandemic" that is an "urgent public health and human rights imperative." Those are some pretty strong words – as well they should be.
Almost 70,000 women die every year (97% of them in developing nations) from unsafe and illegal abortion but millions more suffer complications such as hemorrhaging and infection. Many of those complications result in permanent damage for the women.
When are we, as a global community, going to treat this as a burning human rights issue and not just a political one?