What Drives Abortion: The Law or Income?
About 50,000 women worldwide die because of unsafe abortions. Five million more are admitted to hospitals with complications after the procedure.
Activists and researchers on both sides of the abortion debate agree that these “back-alley” operations are dangerous for women. It’s figuring out the best way to stop them that has been contentious.
One approach has been to make abortion illegal. But evidence is accumulating that this strategy doesn’t work. And it may even backfire, saysAna Langer, who studies reproductive health at the Harvard School of Public Health.
"Many studies have shown that making abortions illegal doesn’t decline the number of abortions," Langer tells NPR. "Women just resort to unsafe providers more often."
To support the claim, Langer cites a large study published in the Lancet a few years ago, which looked at abortions around the world. The conclusion: Prohibiting the procedures is linked with slightly higher rates of abortions. And the majority of these illegal procedures are dangerous for women.
The study estimated abortion rates in the 18 regions around the globe, determined by researchers at the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank in Washington that advocates for abortion rights, who worked with the World Health Organization. The researchers also calculated the fraction of women in each region living what they called “liberal laws” for abortions.
Photo: Abortions are legal in India. But many are performed by traditional midwives, called dais. Sometimes a dai rubs herbs on a woman’s stomach or gives her plants to eat. (Poulomi Basu for NPR)
**I don’t like to touch this issue with anything personal BUT I do want to add that NPR needs to watch out for backwards wording (even though it was quoting, there are better ways to introduce that sentence) like saying that people in country X or Y ‘know’ or ‘don’t know’ how to protect themselves. Availability and (proper) Sexual Education are factors as well, I really dislike Westerners to say ‘they don’t know how’ or ‘know any better’ when there are social and religious reasons why a country refuses their citizens healthcare, sex ed and/or protection