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LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 81-82

Can legalization of abortions be the right approach to minimize the incidence of unsafe abortions worldwide?


1 Department of Community Medicine, Member of the Medical Education Unit & Medical Research Unit, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication22-Mar-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh R Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Chennai - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/JDRNTRUHS.JDRNTRUHS_90_17

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Can legalization of abortions be the right approach to minimize the incidence of unsafe abortions worldwide?. J NTR Univ Health Sci 2018;7:81-2

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Can legalization of abortions be the right approach to minimize the incidence of unsafe abortions worldwide?. J NTR Univ Health Sci [serial online] 2018 [cited 2020 Apr 4];7:81-2. Available from: http://www.jdrntruhs.org/text.asp?2018/7/1/81/228155



Sir,

Abortions are regarded as safe provided it is performed in accordance with a method (either medical abortion or a simple surgical daycare procedure) recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), which corresponds with the suitable duration of pregnancy duration and if it is performed by a trained person in an environment that satisfies the minimal medical standards.[1] Any reported deviation from the above is termed as unsafe abortions, and the available figures suggest that close to 25 million such abortions are done annually in low and middle-income nations.[1]

It is quite alarming that one-fourth of all the pregnancies during 2010–2014 eventually ended as a case of induced abortion.[1],[2] In addition, almost 9% of maternal deaths occur due to unsafe abortion, while millions of women are hospitalized each year in developing nations for the management of procedure-related complications, which in itself causes a major financial burden on the health system as well as on society.[1],[2],[3] To have a better understanding about the circumstances under which abortions are performed, a study has categorized unsafe abortions into less safe (abortions done by a trained person using an unsafe method or by an untrained person using a safe method) or least safe (abortions done by untrained persons using dangerous methods).[2]

It is extremely important to understand that majority of these deaths occur due to the failure of the women to access contraception and safe abortion services due to various reasons (such as stigma, restrictive laws, inaccessibility, expensive nature, attitude of health professionals, and irrelevant formalities), and thus the affected families are subjected to lifelong adverse sequels.[1],[3],[4] Another alarming estimate depicted that only 25% of abortions are safe in nations with abortion being completely forbidden or allowed only to safeguard woman's health or life, while 90% of abortions are safe in nations where abortion is legal.[2] This is a clear indication that mere restriction on access to abortion services would not warrant a reduction in the number of abortions.[2]

To prevent unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions, policy makers should formulate comprehensive policies and support implementation of the prescribed provisions by rendering financial assistance.[1],[3],[4],[5] In addition, there is a great need for strengthening of the health system, delivery of comprehensive sexuality education, better accessibility to a wide range of contraceptive methods, family planning counseling, and improving access to safe and legal abortion.[1],[2],[3],[4],[5] As an innovative method, the WHO in collaboration with an international agency has initiated an open-access database of laws/policies/health standards on abortion in different nations globally to facilitate better transparency pertaining to abortion laws and to enhance accountability for the protection of health rights of women.[6]

To conclude, considering that significant advances have been made in the health sector, losing the lives of millions of women to unsafe abortions is a serious public health concern, and immediate steps should be taken to minimize the incidence of unsafe abortions and improve the accessibility of abortion services.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
World Health Organization. Preventing unsafe abortion-Fact sheet No. 388; 2017. Available from: http://who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs388/en/. [Last accessed on 2017 Oct 4].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
World Health Organization, Guttmacher Institute. Worldwide, an estimated 25 million unsafe abortions occur each year; 2017. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2017/unsafe-abortions-worldwide/en/. [Last accessed on 2017 Oct 5].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Unsafe abortions: A cruel way of birth control. Afr Health Sci 2014;14:487-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
[PUBMED]    
4.
Yegon EK, Kabanya PM, Echoka E, Osur J. Understanding abortion-related stigma and incidence of unsafe abortion: Experiences from community members in Machakos and Trans Nzoia counties Kenya. Pan Afr Med J 2016;24:258.  Back to cited text no. 4
[PUBMED]    
5.
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. World Health Organization advocates for expansion in the role of health workforce to prevent unsafe abortions. Int J Prev Med 2016;7:16.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Johnson BR Jr, Mishra V, Lavelanet AF, Khosla R, Ganatra B. A global database of abortion laws, policies, health standards and guidelines. Bull World Health Organ 2017;95:542-4.  Back to cited text no. 6
    




 

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