Unsafe abortions kill 70,000 a year, injure many more

A new report by the Guttmacher Institute showed that the worldwide abortion rate dropped over a eight-year period, 1995 to 2003, primarily because of in-creased use of contraceptives.
The decrease was substantial, from an estimated 45.5 million in 1995 to 41.6 in 2003, despite the increase in world population over those years.
Guttmacher, an organization that tracks abortion, unwed births, and similar statistics involving birth and the treatment of women in all nations where it can gather reliable information, also reported that about 70,000 women die each year due to unsafe abortions and that millions more are seriously harmed. They estimate that there are 20 million unsafe abortions performed every year — carried out by women themselves using inappropriate drugs or herbal potions, or performed by untrained traditional healers.
“It is significant and tragic that while the overall rate of abortion is on the decline, unsafe abortion has not de-clined,” Sharon L. Camp, president of the institute, said at a press conference in London.
“Legal restrictions do not stop abortion from happening; they just make the procedure dangerous.”

EVERY ONCE in a while, this fact needs to be brought to public attention, if only to remind us that legal abortion came about because so many young girls and women died from infections and injuries resulting from unsafe abortions. Abortions performed by physicians working in sterile operating rooms with sterile instruments are, in contrast, safe. Furthermore, women under professional care can be treated promptly and effectively if complications do arise.
Today in the United States legal abortion is available to all who can afford it. The only victims of abortion malpractice are those who can’t afford the procedure or are prevented access for whatever reason.
The topic is current again because those who oppose abortion are demanding that whatever health care reform bill passes Congress and becomes law does not provide public funds for the procedure. Currently, there are few health insurance plans which are not funded to some extent by funds from the private sector even though public money also may be involved. This permits managers to say that only private sector money is used for abortion.
This is, of course, a distinction without a difference. Money is fungible. Like one drop of water is like another, once a dollar enters a payment stream it loses its label and a private buck looks and acts just like a public one.
But the fiction works. The crusaders can mount their campaigns and women in the industrialized nations — most of them, anyway — can still make their own reproduction decisions. It is a curious, sometimes disturbing, world we live in.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.