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29 September 2017, 12:46 | Franklin Nunez
Nearly Half of Abortions Around the World Are Unsafe
Almost 31 percent of all abortions, or about 17 million, were classified as "less safe".
"Increasing the availability, accessibility, and affordability of contraceptions can reduce the incidence of unintended pregnancies, and therefore abortions, but it is essential to combine this strategy with interventions to ensure access to safe abortions", she said.
The new analysis distinguished, for the first time, among three categories of abortion: safe, meaning a trained provider used a method recommended by World Health Organization; less-safe, meaning either the provider was untrained or the method was outdated; and least-safe, meaning an untrained provider used unsafe methods.
But a further eight million abortions, categorised as "least safe" in the study, involved desperate and unsafe backstreet measures, from swallowing toxic substances to inserting wires to try to bring about a miscarriage.
Unsafe abortions can lead to complications, such as heavy bleeding, infection, damage to genitals or internal organs, or an incomplete abortion, such as when all of the pregnancy tissue is not removed from the uterus, according to WHO.
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The percentage of abortions in North America that were considered safe. "It is also important to note that women undergoing abortions in Africa had the highest risk of dying from a least safe abortion". In these countries, economic development, gender equality and contraceptive use are all high, suggesting a formula for making abortion safe and rare anywhere, the team wrote.
"I think that there's no question that unsafe abortion continues to be one of the leading causes of maternal mortality and morbidity, and importantly this is preventable", Dr Lisa Haddad, an obstetrician-gynaecologist who has worked at clinics in sub-Saharan Africa, told CNN. Less than one in four abortions in Africa, excluding Southern Africa, were safe.
In Latin America, only 1 in 4 abortions were safe, though the majority were categorized as "less safe", as it is increasingly common for women in the region to obtain and self-administer medicines like misoprostol outside of formal health systems. "Progress towards safer abortion is needed, even in some developed countries".
The researchers themselves noted in the study that, in general, empirical data on abortions were scarce, especially in countries where abortions were legally restricted, stigmatized or less likely to be reported. Without legal access to abortions, women are too often left without the option of safety. Similarly, it can be extremely hard for doctors to distinguish between complications caused by miscarriage and induced abortion.
The number of abortions around the world each year between 2010 and 2014.
The database aims to promote greater transparency of abortion laws and policies, as well as to improve countries' accountability for the protection of women and girls' health and human rights.
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