The following text was taken from a bulletin by the “Flora Tristan” Peruvian Women’s Center. The Center is coordinating the campaign to legalize abortion around the world.

Unsafe Abortion = Maternal Mortality

September 28 Campaign

Unsafe, clandestine abortions are a direct result of criminalizing abortion. Illegal abortions put women’s health at risk. Hygienic conditions are unregulated and people trained to protect the patient’s life, unavailable.

5000 women die each year as a result of complications from unsafe abortions in Latin America and the Caribbean. –more than 1/5 of all maternal deaths. On a global scale, complications from unsafe abortions result in 21% of all maternal deaths.

In 1996, the Panamerican Health Organization revealed that abortion is the primary cause of maternal death in Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Panama, Paraguay and Peru. Abortion is the second leading cause of maternal mortality in Costa Rica, and the third in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua.

Death is not the only consequence of unsafe, illegal abortions. Between 10% and 50% of all such abortions require medical attention for complications. Incomplete abortions, hemorrhaging, and infections are all risks stemming from abortions conducted in circumstances where the women’s health and life are unprotected.

Health Alert

13% of the approximately 600,000 pregnancy related deaths worldwide result from unsafe abortions, according the PHO.

The abortion mortality rate is 0.2-1.2 per 100,000 abortions in countries where abortion is legal.
The mortality rate in countries where abortion is penalized is 330 per 100,000.
The PHO estimates that 20 million abortions are induced each year.

Despite the risk, millions of women resort to unsafe abortions to terminate unwanted pregnancies each year. How should governments respond?

Legislation encouraging and facilitating access to safe abortions must be passed and implemented. This is the only manner to effectively eradicate clandestine abortions.
…prevention of unwanted pregnancies ought to be the highest priority. Everything possible should be done to avoid the need for an abortion. Women with unwanted pregnancies should have quick access to reliable information, as well as sensitive counseling….in situations where abortions are legal, they ought to be safe.

In all cases, women should have access to high quality services in order to treat complications stemming from an abortion. Post-abortion counseling and family planning services should be proffered. These steps will also help prevent future abortions.” –CIPD Program for Action, IV World Conference of Women.
Abortions conducted in unsafe conditions put many women’s lives in jeopardy and present a grave public health problem. The majority of these deaths, injuries and abortion-related health problems could have been prevented with improved access to health services, including safe and effective methods of birth control, and urgent gynecological care. –IV World Conference of Women, Beijing 1995.

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