|Safety of Women|
Safety of Women
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History shows that making abortion legal generally leads to significant reductions in injuries and deaths caused to women by abortion.
The World Health Organisation estimates that approximately one-third of maternal deaths are due to complications arising from illegally induced abortions. Each year an estimated 20 million unsafe abortions are performed worldwide, 95% of these are performed in low-income countries.
Before abortion was permitted in countries like the UK and USA, women still had abortions, but because abortion was a crime, they were carried out in secrecy, and very often by people with no, or inadequate, medical training. And even when carried out by doctors, they were rarely done with hospital back-up.
The result of this was that many women died, or suffered permanent physical damage as a result of botched abortions. Because there was no counselling, even women whose bodies were unscathed, suffered grief and guilt, and the stigma of having an abortion often prevented them from seeking comfort from their family or friends.
Illegal abortions are more likely than legal abortions to do permanent damage to women's reproductive organs. This reduces the chance of children being born later, at a stage when the woman may be able to care for a family. This discriminates against women who wish to have a family later on.
Women's rights advocates argue that access to legal abortion is essential for the mental and physical health of women as a gender, and that banning abortion puts women in danger. Furthermore, since this is not a danger that men face, it would be a source of inequality and injustice.
Many advocates go much further than this and say that not only should abortion be available, it should be available in all communities and at low (or no) cost, otherwise the poor, and those living in areas with a strong religious ethos will suffer discrimination that puts their health at risk. This, they argue, would breach human rights.