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NIH / Unsafe Abortion: Unnecessary Maternal Mortality

"Every year, worldwide, about 42 million women with unintended pregnancies choose abortion, and nearly half of these procedures, 20 million, are unsafe. Some 68,000 women die of unsafe abortion annually, making it one of the leading causes of maternal mortality (13%). Of the women who survive unsafe abortion, 5 million will suffer long-term health complications. Unsafe abortion is thus a pressing issue. Both of the primary methods for preventing unsafe abortion—less restrictive abortion laws and greater contraceptive use—face social, religious, and political obstacles, particularly in developing nations, where most unsafe abortions (97%) occur. Even where these obstacles are overcome, women and health care providers need to be educated about contraception and the availability of legal and safe abortion, and women need better access to safe abortion and postabortion services. Otherwise, desperate women, facing the financial burdens and social stigma of unintended pregnancy and believing they have no other option, will continue to risk their lives by undergoing unsafe abortions."

Guttmacher Institute / Abortion Worldwide: Uneven Progress & Unequal Access

Scroll down to Section 5: Consequences of Clandestine Abortion, to see what happens when abortion is made illegal or difficult to obtain:

"One common way to reduce abortion mortality is to broaden legal grounds—along with ensuring adequate mechanisms to implement the law and make safe services widely available. Evidence documenting the drop in mortality postlegalization is available for a few countries. In Romania, for example, the maternal mortality ratio fell 16-fold after restrictions on abortion were lifted following a 28-year crackdown, from 148 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1989 to nine per 100,000 in 2002.192 In South Africa, annual deaths in public facilities from unsafe procedures fell by 91% soon after the 1996 law that moved the country from legality category 2 to 6—from 425 deaths in 1994 to 40 in 1999–2001."

And from the conclusion, in Section 7:

"The toll of unsafe abortion on women’s health is greatest where abortion is highly legally restricted. Decades of evidence reaffirms the benefit to the well-being of women and their families that comes with liberalizing abortion laws and broadening access to services."

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