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Defending life
from conception to natural death


World Health Organisation: There are 56 million abortions a year, half of them unsafe

28 September 2017

Why does the World Health Organisation campaign for abortion, if it's so unsafe?

The report was released on "International Safe Abortion Day".

A study released by the World Health Organisation and the Guttmacher Institute (a division of Planned Parenthood) says that 55.7 million abortions took place every year between 2010 and 2014 worldwide, and of them 17.1 million were "less safe", while a further 8 million were "least safe". It claims that the highest levels of "unsafe" abortions took place in Africa, and also singles out countries with pro-life laws, saying: "In countries where abortion is completely banned or permitted only to save the woman’s life or preserve her physical health, only 1 in 4 abortions were safe."


SPUC researcher Fiorella Nash has written before about how it is misleading to talk about "safe" and "unsafe" abortion. Firstly, figures may include deaths as a result of spontaneous abortion, otherwise known as miscarriage, giving a distorted picture of the number of women who are dying as a result of induced abortion. Similarly, it can be extremely difficult for doctors to distinguish between complications caused by miscarriage and induced abortion. 

The safety of abortion in developed countries (where it is likely to be legal) is also exaggerated. 8.2 % of maternal deaths (here, Figure 1) in the developed world are from abortion (more than Africa, at 3.9%, and Asia, at 5.7).

Why do they campaign for it?

Commenting on the story, SPUC's Alithea Williams said: "The Guttmacher Institute actively campaigns for abortion, and has been known to use misleading figures in the past, so we would want to take this report with a grain of salt. However, if we take the numbers at face value, the question arises: if there are so many unsafe abortions, why are these bodies campaigning for this medically unnecessary procedure in the very places in the world where complications are more likely, whether the abortion is legal or not? Why don't they focus on helping women and on providing resources, such as skilled birth attendants and emergency obstetrics for difficult pregnancies, which are known to drastically reduce maternal mortality?

"Whatever the accuracy of these figures, every abortion is a tragedy, and of course by definition a procedure which seeks the death of one party involved is always going to be "unsafe". It is also a tragedy, and a scandal, that resources are being diverted from providing essential maternal health care to the provision of abortion, under the guise of decreasing unsafe abortion."

News in brief:

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