Saturday, October 13, 2007

Abortion rate falls in places where it's legal, birth control available

Once again, empirical evidence proves conservative arguments completely wrong:
A comprehensive global study of abortion has concluded that abortion rates are similar in countries where it is legal and those where it is not, suggesting that outlawing the procedure does little to deter women seeking it.

Moreover, the researchers found that abortion was safe in countries where it was legal, but dangerous in countries where it was outlawed and performed clandestinely. Globally, abortion accounts for 13 percent of women’s deaths during pregnancy and childbirth, and there are 31 abortions for every 100 live births, the study said.

The results of the study, a collaboration between scientists from the World Health Organization in Geneva and the Guttmacher Institute in New York, a reproductive rights group, are being published Friday in the journal Lancet.

“We now have a global picture of induced abortion in the world, covering both countries where it is legal and countries where laws are very restrictive,” Dr. Paul Van Look, director of the W.H.O. Department of Reproductive Health and Research, said in a telephone interview. “What we see is that the law does not influence a woman’s decision to have an abortion. If there’s an unplanned pregnancy, it does not matter if the law is restrictive or liberal.”

But the legal status of abortion did greatly affect the dangers involved, the researchers said. “Generally, where abortion is legal it will be provided in a safe manner,” Dr. Van Look said. “And the opposite is also true: where it is illegal, it is likely to be unsafe, performed under unsafe conditions by poorly trained providers.”

The data also suggested that the best way to reduce abortion rates was not to make abortion illegal but to make contraception more widely available, said Sharon Camp, chief executive of the Guttmacher Institute.
The study also shows abortions are declining worldwide due to wider use of birth control practices, but right-wingers want more abstinence-only education (like we have here in Texas - the state with the highest teen pregnancy rate).
The number of abortions annually fell to under 42 million from 46 million between 1995 and 2003, with rates decreasing most significantly in Eastern Europe, said the report from the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization.

The number of abortions fell most in developed countries where it is legal compared to poorer countries where it is largely banned and considered unsafe, the researchers said...

The report said an estimated 20 million unsafe abortions occurred in 2003, 97 percent of them in developing regions and places where the procedure is banned.

"Each year, about 70,000 women die due to unsafe abortion and an additional five million suffer permanent or temporary disability," Paul Van Look, director of the WHO's department of reproductive health and research, said in a statement.
So basically, if "pro-lifers" are really interested in reducing abortion and upholding the "sanctity of life," they'll make sure it's safe and legal (so women don't die), and rare by also supporting increased access to contraceptives and sex education (which reduced unwanted pregnancies).

1 comment:

Xanthippas said...

Color me surprised if this changes the mind of anyone on the right. They don't care about the substantive result. They will continue to advocate for a system in which people get little to no accurate sex education, there's no federal or state funding of contraceptives, and women would have to get illegal abortions at the same rate they get legal ones. They don't care about the result; only the principle, and the principle is controlling reproduction in this country in all aspects. When that's the strain of thought, then there can really be little to no compromise. Democrats MUST protect the right to an abortion in both principle and practice, and reduce abortions by providing kids with sex education and contraception, and they will do more to reduce the rate of abortions in this country (as they did under Clinton) than any of the anti-abortion zealots ever have or could.