HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Unsafe Abortions

The Lancet released a new research study that examines the death rate and hospitalizations resulting from unsafe abortions in developing countries.   

The researchers spoke with the BBC News about their study and its findings:

Lead researcher Dr Susheela Singh said: "The evidence shows that the health burden of unsafe abortion is large.

"The most effective way of eliminating this highly preventable cause of maternal illness and death, would be to make safe and legal abortion services available and accessible.  A second, more immediately achievable, goal is to prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place through improved contraception use."

Also writing in The Lancet, Marge Berer, editor of the journal Reproductive Health Matters, said the study painted a grim picture.  "The burden of injury and hospital admission are all the worse for being almost always avoidable.  When legal restrictions on abortion are reduced, the rate of deaths and morbidity decreases greatly." . . .

Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said Dr Singh's findings were guesses based on estimates.  "The burden of the study is clearly to promote the killing of more unborn babies in poorer countries, regardless of the fact that women do not want abortions," he said.

He also took issue with the notion liberalisation of abortion laws led to a cut in death and disability among pregnant women.

"This is contradicted by hard data from Poland, which imposed new legal restrictions on abortion in the mid 1990s and consequently showed improved maternal and infant health."

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