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19 January 2012

FollowUp 2: Personhood Amendments

Wednesday evening there was yet another Republican debate in South Carolina, this time sponsored by Personhood USA and called a Pro-Life Forum.  Despite an explicit invitation, Mr. Romney was a no-show.  All four of the remaining Republican contenders are opposed to legal abortion.

But, the facts are that if one wants to see abortion rates reduced, then one should favor legal abortion and legal contraception.  A news release from the Guttmacher Institute, a Collaborating Center for Reproductive Health of the World Health Organization, indicates that abortion rates are starting to rise globally.  The study was released in the Lancet.  The details of what is happening are important.  First from the news release:
“The declining abortion trend we had seen globally has stalled, and we are also seeing a growing proportion of abortions occurring in developing countries, where the procedure is often clandestine and unsafe. This is cause for concern,” says Gilda Sedgh , lead author of the study and a senior researcher at the Guttmacher Institute. “This plateau coincides with a slowdown in contraceptive uptake. Without greater investment in quality family planning services, we can expect this trend to persist.”
Research from WHO shows that complications due to unsafe abortion continued to account for an estimated 13% of all maternal deaths worldwide in 2008; almost all of these deaths occurred in developing countries. Globally, unsafe abortion accounted for 220 deaths per 100,000 procedures in 2008, 350 times the rate associated with legal induced abortions in the United States (0.6 per 100,000). Unsafe abortion is also a significant cause of ill-health: Each year approximately 8.5 million women in developing countries experience abortion complications serious enough to require medical attention, and three million of them do not receive the needed care.
“Deaths and disability related to unsafe abortion are entirely preventable, and some progress has been made in developing regions. Africa is the exception, accounting for 17% of the developing world's population of women of childbearing age but half of all unsafe abortion–related deaths," notes Iqbal H. Shah, of the WHO and a coauthor of the study. “Within developing countries, risks are greatest for the poorest women. They have the least access to family planning services and are the most likely to suffer the negative consequences of an unsafe procedure. Poor women also have the least access to postabortion care, when they need treatment for complications.”
The findings provide further evidence that restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower rates of abortion. For example, the 2008 abortion rate was 29 per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Africa and 32 per 1,000 in Latin America, regions where abortion is highly restricted in almost all countries. In contrast, in Western Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds, the rate is 12.
So nations that are so radical that they allow legal abortions have an abortion rate of less than half that of those without legal abortion.  Worse, when abortions are not legal women are three hundred and fifty times more likely to die than during a legal abortion.

This is not surprising data.  In 2007, the Guttmacher Institute produced a similar study that found that use of contraception is correlated with reduction in abortions.
The number of induced abortions worldwide declined from nearly 46 million to under 42 million between 1995 and 2003. Abortion rates fell most significantly in Eastern Europe, a trend that corresponds with substantially increased contraceptive use in the region, according to “Induced Abortion: Rates and Trends Worldwide,” a new report by the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization (WHO) published in the 13 October 2007 issue of The Lancet.
If one really wants fewer abortions, Personhood Amendments are not the answer.  Restrictive abortion laws are not the answer.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but for fewer abortions, encourage contraception and give women and their doctors abortion as a legal choice.

11 November 2011, Original Pedantic Political Ponderings post.

4 December 2011, FollowUp 1.

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