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An unsafe abortion is the termination of an unintended pregnancy by persons lacking the necessary skills, or in an environment lacking the minimal medical standards, or both. According to a global study collaboratively conducted by the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute, most unsafe abortions occur where abortion is illegal [1]. Unsafe abortion is a significant cause of maternal mortality and morbidity in the world. Approximately 95% of unsafe abortions take place in developing countries. [2]

Contents

Overview

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports each year nearly 42 million women faced with an unintended pregnancy have an abortion [3]; and according to the 2007 estimates conducted collaboratively by the WHO and Guttmacher Institute, 20 million unsafe abortions take place each year, most in countries where abortion is illegal [4]. According to WHO and Guttmacher, approximately 68,000 women die annually as a result of complications of unsafe abortion; and between two million and seven million women each year survive unsafe abortion but sustain long-term damage or disease (incomplete abortion, infection (sepsis), haemorrhage, and injury to the internal organs, such as puncturing or tearing of the uterus). They also concluded abortion is safe in countries where it's legal, but dangerous in countries where it's outlawed and performed clandestinely. The WHO reports that in developed regions, nearly all abortions (92%) are safe, whereas in developing countries, more than half (55%) are unsafe. [5] According to WHO statistics, the risk rate for unsafe abortion is 1/270; according to other sources, unsafe abortion is responsible for one in eight maternal deaths.[6] Worldwide, 48% of all induced abortions are unsafe.


The World Health Organization calls safe, legal abortion a "fundamental right of women, irrespective of where they live" and unsafe abortion a "silent pandemic" [7]. The WHO states "ending the silent pandemic of unsafe abortion is an urgent public-health and human-rights imperative." The WHO also states "access to safe abortion improves women’s health, and vice versa, as documented in Romania during the regime of President Nicolae Ceausescu" and "legalisation of abortion on request is a necessary but insufficient step toward improving women’s health" citing that in some countries, such as India where abortion has been legal for decades, access to competent care remains restricted because of other barriers. WHO’s Global Strategy on Reproductive Health, adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2004, noted: “As a preventable cause of maternal mortality and morbidity, unsafe abortion must be dealt with as part of the MDG on improving maternal health and other international development goals and targets." [8] The WHO's Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP), who's research concerns people's sexual and reproductive health and lives [9], has an overall strategy to combat unsafe abortion that comprises four inter-related activities [10]:

  • to collate, synthesize and generate scientifically sound evidence on unsafe abortion prevalence and practices;
  • to develop improved technologies and implement interventions to make abortion safer;
  • to translate evidence into norms, tools and guidelines;
  • and to assist in the development of programmes and policies that reduce unsafe abortion and improve access to safe abortion and highquality postabortion care

A 2007 study published in the The Lancet found that, although the global rate of abortion declined from 45.6 million in 1995 to 41.6 million in 2003, unsafe procedures still accounted for 48% of all abortions performed in 2003. It also concluded that, while the overall incidence of abortion in both developed and developing countries is approximately equal, unsafe abortion occurs more often in less-developed nations. [11]

Pro-life critics contend that the results of The Lancet study are flawed, as there are no accurate statistics about abortion from countries without socialized medicine, particularly those in the developing world.[12][13] In a 2005 report, the WHO itself states, “More than a third of the 204 countries or areas examined did not report the number of deaths by sex even once for the period 1995 to 2003. About half did not report deaths by cause, sex and age at least once in the same period. Moreover, from 1975 to 2003 there has been limited progress in the reporting of deaths and their causes.” [14]

Incidence by continent

Region Unsafe Abortion Risk of Dying (Unsaf eAborti on) / (Materna lDeaths) * 100
Africa 1 in 150 13%
Asia[15] 1 in 250 12%
Latin America 1 in 900 21%
Europe[16] 1 in 1900 17%

Source: Unsafe Abortion: Mortality and Risk Estimates of Death data from WHO press, Geneva, 1997

10,000 women a year die from unsafe abortions in Nigeria alone.[17]

Incidences in the U.S. after 1973

In 2005, the Detroit News reported that a 16-year-old boy beat his pregnant, under-age girlfriend with a bat at her request to abort a fetus. The young couple live in Michigan, where parental consent is required to receive an abortion.[18] [19][20] In Indiana, where there are also parental consent laws, a young woman by the name of Becky Bell died from a back-alley abortion rather than discuss her pregnancy and wish for an abortion with her parents.[21][22]

Method

Methods of unsafe abortion include:

  • Trying to break the amniotic sac inside the womb with a sharp stick or wire (for example a clothes hanger). This method can result in infection, and injury to internal organs (for example perforating the intestines), resulting in death.
  • Pumping toxic mixtures, such as chili peppers and chemicals like alum, or plant poison into the body of the woman. This method can cause the woman to go in to toxic shock and die.[17]
  • Inducing an abortion without medical supervision by self-administering abortifacient drugs obtained illegally, either by importion or by using drugs not indicated for abortion but known to result in miscarraige and/or uterine contraction.

Back-alley abortion

Soviet poster circa 1925. Title translation: "Abortions performed by either trained or self-taught midwives not only maim the woman, they also often lead to death."

An illegal abortion may be called a "back-alley", "backstreet", or "back-yard" abortion.

The wire coat hanger method was a popularly known illegal abortion procedure, although they were not the norm. In fact, Mary Calderone, former medical director of Planned Parenthood, said, in a 1960 printing of the American Journal of Public Health:

"Abortion is no longer a dangerous procedure. This applies not just to therapeutic abortions as performed in hospitals but also to so-called illegal abortions as done by physician. In 1957 there were only 260 deaths in the whole country attributed to abortions of any kind, second, and even more important, the conference [on abortion sponsored by Planned Parenthood] estimated that 90 percent of all illegal abortions are presently being done by physicians. Whatever trouble arises usually arises from self-induced abortions, which comprise approximately 8 percent, or with the very small percentage that go to some kind of non-medical abortionist. Abortion, whether therapeutic or illegal, is in the main no longer dangerous, because it is being done well by physicians."

Herbal abortions (when done illegally) can also be described as back-alley abortions because they are not induced in a medical facility.

Controversy

The matter of back-alley abortion in America received public attention leading up to the legal proceedings of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 United States Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion in America. Since then, it has become a central argument on the part of some prominent legal abortion advocates. The publication in Ms. magazine of a photo of Gerri Santoro, who died of blood loss following a back-alley abortion, was used extensively to illustrate the dangers of illegal abortions.

See also

References

  1. ^ Rosenthal, Elisabeth (October 2007). "Legal or Not, Abortion Rates Compare". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/world/12abortion.html. Retrieved 2009-30-6.  
  2. ^ Henshaw, Stanley K.; Susheela Singh and Taylor Haas (January 1999). "The Incidence of Abortion Worldwide". Family Planning Perspectives 25 (Supplement): S30–S38. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/25s3099.html#fn3a. Retrieved 2009-05-31.  
  3. ^ http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/unsafe_abortion/en/index.html
  4. ^ Rosenthal, Elisabeth (October 2007). "Legal or Not, Abortion Rates Compare". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/world/12abortion.html. Retrieved 2009-30-6.  
  5. ^ http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/unsafe_abortion/en/index.html
  6. ^ Nour NM (2008). "An Introduction to Maternal Mortality". Reviews in Ob Gyn 1: 77–81.  
  7. ^ "WHO: Unsafe Abortion - The Preventable Pandemic". http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/unsafe_abortion/ua_paper/en/index.html. Retrieved 2010-01-16.  
  8. ^ http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/unsafe_abortion/hrpwork/en/index.html
  9. ^ http://www.who.int/hrp/en/
  10. ^ http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/unsafe_abortion/hrpwork/en/index.html
  11. ^ Sedgh, Gilda; et al (2007-10-13). "Induced Abortion: Estimated Rates and Trends Worldwide". The Lancet 370 (9595): 1338–45. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61575-X. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS014067360761575X/fulltext. Retrieved 2009-05-31.  
  12. ^ Mosher, Steven. (October 12, 2007). "Worldwide Illegal Abortion Study Relies on Bogus and Biased Statistics." LifeNews.com. Retrieved October 31, 2007.
  13. ^ Lyons, Stephanie. (October 19, 2007). "Study shows abortions just as likely to happen in countries where it is illegal." The Daily Vidette Online. Retrieved October 31, 2007.
  14. ^ United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2006) (PDF). The World’s Women 2005: Progress in Statistics. New York: United Nations. ISBN 92-1-161482-1. http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/indwm/ww2005_pub/English/WW2005_text_complete_BW.pdf. Retrieved 2009-05-31.  
  15. ^ Excludes Japan, Australia and New Zealand
  16. ^ Primarily Eastern Europe
  17. ^ a b Andrew Walker (2008-04-07). "Saving Nigerians from risky abortions". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7328830.stm. Retrieved 2009-05-31.  
  18. ^ Cardenas, Edward; George Hunter (2005-01-05). "Boy Faces Felony in Baseball Bat Abortion". Detroit News. http://www.detnews.com/2005/metro/0501/05/A01-50709.htm.  
  19. ^ White, Pamela (January 13-21, 2005). "Baseball Bat Abortion". Boulder Weekly. http://archive.boulderweekly.com/011305/uncensored.html. Retrieved 2009-05-31.  
  20. ^ "Michigan: Restrictions on Young Women's Access to Abortion". NARAL Pro-Choice America. http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/choice-action-center/in_your_state/who-decides/state-profiles/michigan.html?templateName=lawdetails&issueID=6&ssumID=2652. Retrieved 2009-05-31.  
  21. ^ "Pacifica Radio". 2003-01-22. http://www.pacifica.org/programs/dn/030123.html. Retrieved 2009-05-31.  
  22. ^ Platner, Jon (2006-09-15). "Remembering Becky Bell". Planned Parenthood Golden Gate. http://www.ppgg.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=esJMKZPKJtH&b=1371221&ct=2939285. Retrieved 2009-05-31.  

External links


Simple English

An unsafe abortion is an abortion which is not done by a person which has the skills to do them (a licensed doctor), or in a place that does not meet at least basic standards of hygiene. Unsafe abortions can be very dangerous to the mother. Many women die or get a disease because they had an unsafe abortion. About 95 percent of unsafe abortions happen in developing countries.[1]

Contents

Method

Two very common ways that unsafe abortions are done are:

  • Trying to break the amniotic sac inside the womb. This can be done with a sharp stick or wire (for example a clothes hanger).[2] This method is dangerous, because it can lead to infection. It may also hurt internal organs (for example pulling out the intestines) - resulting in the death of the woman treated.[2]
  • Pumping toxic mixtures, such as Chile peppers and chemicals like alum, or plant poison into the body of the woman.[2] This method can cause the woman to go in to toxic shock and die.[2]

Back-alley abortion

poster  circa 1925. Title translation: "Abortions performed by either trained or self-taught midwives not only maim the woman, they also often lead to death."]]

A back-alley abortion (Back-Yard Abortion in Australia) is the common slang term for an illegal abortion in the English-speaking world.

The method using the coat hanger, as described above, was known by many people. This method was not what was done normally, though. In fact, Mary Calderone, former medical director of Planned Parenthood, said, in a 1960 printing of the American Journal of Public Health:

"Abortion is no longer a dangerous procedure. This applies not just to therapeutic abortions as performed in hospitals but also to so-called illegal abortions as done by physician. In 1957 there were only 260 deaths in the whole country attributed to abortions of any kind, second, and even more important, the conference [on abortion sponsored by Planned Parenthood] estimated that 90 percent of all illegal abortions are presently being done by physicians. Whatever trouble arises usually arises from self-induced abortions, which comprise approximately 8 percent, or with the very small percentage that go to some kind of non-medical abortionist. Abortion, whether therapeutic or illegal, is in the main no longer dangerous, because it is being done well by physicians."

Herbal abortions (when done illegally) can also be described as back-alley abortions because they are not induced in a medical facility.

Controversy

The argument of back-alley abortions was used to help make abortion legal in the United States. In 1973, the US Supreme Court decided that abortion should be legalized. It was treating a case called Roe v. Wade. Since then, it has become a central argument on the part of some prominent legal abortion advocates. Gerri Santoro died of blood loss after a back-alley abortion. Her photo was used extensively to illustrate the dangers of illegal abortions.

Bernard Nathanson used to perform many abortions before, but now is against abortion. He said that many of the statistics that show that many women died from back-alley abortions in the US are false. He said that he and his colleagues made many such statistics to lead people to believe that legalizing abortion was a good thing to do. [3]

How many unsafe abortions there are by continent

Region Unsafe Abortion Risk of Dying (Unsafe Abortion)/(Maternal Deaths)* 100
Africa 1 in 150 13%
Asia[4] 1 in 250 12%
Latin America 1 in 900 21%
Europe[5] 1 in 1900 17%

Source: Unsafe Abortion: Mortality and Risk Estimates of Death data from WHO press, Geneva, 1997

10,000 women a year die from unsafe abortions in Nigeria.[2]

References

  1. Stanley K. Henshaw, Susheela Singh and Taylor Haas, The Incidence of Abortion Worldwide, Family Planning Perspectives 1999 http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/25s3099.html#fn3a Retrieved 25 September 2008
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Andrew Walker (2008-04-07). "Saving Nigerians from risky abortions". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7328830.stm. 
  3. Confession of an Ex-Abortionist by Dr. Bernard Nathanson
  4. Excludes Japan, Australia and New Zealand
  5. Primarily Eastern Europe







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