ABORTION FACTS AROUND THE WORLD:
1/3 of all pregnancies worldwide are unplanned
Approximately 25% of the world population lives in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws, mostly in Asia, Africa and Latin America
One woman dies every 7 minutes around the world due to an unsafe illegal abortion. Women who undergo illegal abortions are those who are very poor and do not have access to family planning facilities for education and prevention of unwanted pregnancies
Making abortion illegal or legal has no effect on the total number of abortions performed in the world. Making abortion legal dramatically reduces maternal morbidity and mortality.
Nearly 50% of pregnancies that occur yearly are unwanted with nearly ½ of those pregnant women terminating their pregnancy. In essence; 42 million choose to terminate their pregnancy with close to half of those (20 million) being illegal.
Common complications from unsafe abortions are cervical tears, retained pregnancy tissue, severe heavy bleeding, sepsis, uterine perforation, bladder and bowel damage, which can lead to maternal death if patients are not treated in a timely matter. Death may also result from such complications as gas gangrene of the uterus and acute renal failure. The patient can become permanently disabled due to stroke, or septic clots that form in the upper or lower extremities that lead to the necessity for removal. If a patient develops a severe infection it can lead to tubo-ovarian abscess, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which may result in a high incidence of infertility and ectopic pregnancy.
Between 10 and 50% of unsafe abortion cases need medical attention but a lot of women delay or decide not to seek medical care. This is because in a lot of countries where it is illegal to have abortions performed, the women who go to the hospital for help will be reported to the local law authorities and are subject to arrest and spending time in jail. The medical staff often refuses to help and will even harass women about their botched abortion. 600,000 maternal deaths occur each year. Seventy thousand (70,000) of those maternal deaths are from the complications of unsafe abortion which represents 12 to 13% percent of maternal deaths. Prior to 1966, Rumania allowed abortions to take place and as a result, maintained a very low maternal death rate. From 1966 to 1989 abortions were made illegal and the maternal mortality rate increased over 10 times compared to the remainder of Europe.
When performed by qualified Physicians and medical personnel appropriately trained about the medical and surgical abortion techniques, it is a relatively safe and necessary procedure. In the United States, for example, the death rate for abortion is currently 0.6 per 100 000 procedures, making it as safe or safer than receiving an injection of penicillin.
FACTS ABOUT ABORTION IN THE UNITED STATES
Incidence of Abortion
Nearly half of all pregnancies among American women are unintended, and 4 in 10 of these are terminated by abortion. 22% of all pregnancies end in abortion.
40% of pregnancies among white women, 69% among blacks and 54% among Hispanics are unintended.
In 2005, 1.21 million abortions were performed, down from 1.31 million in 2000. More than 45 million legal abortions were performed from 1973 through 2005.
Each year, about 2% of women aged 15-44 have an abortion; 47% of them have had at least one previous abortion.
At least half of all American women will face an unintended pregnancy by age 45 and, at current rates; about one-third will have had an abortion.
Over 88% of abortions occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Over half of all abortions in the U.S. occur within the first 8 weeks of pregnancy. 6.7% occur between 13 and 15 weeks, 3.5% occur between 16 and 20 weeks, and 1.1% of abortions occur at 21 weeks or greater.
Today, the number of abortions has declined from a peak of 29.3 per 1000 women aged 15-44 in 1979 to 19.4 per thousand. It has only slowly dropped over the last several years because poor women have not had access to Family Planning Facilities for education and prevention of pregnancy through effective birth control measures.
Who Has Abortions?
Fifty percent of U.S. women obtaining abortion are younger than 25: Women aged 20-24 obtain 33% of all abortions, and teenagers obtain 17%.
37% of abortions occur with black women, 34% with non-Hispanic white women, 22% to Hispanic women and 8% to women of other races.
Women who obtain abortion represent every religious affiliation. 43% of women obtaining abortion identify themselves as Protestant, and 27% as Catholic; and 13% of abortion patients describe themselves as born-again or Evangelical Christians.
Most women receiving abortion (83%) are unmarried. Women who have never married obtain two-thirds of all abortions. 16% are separated, divorced, or widowed. Married women are significantly less likely than unmarried women to resolve unintended pregnancies through abortion. About 60% of abortions are obtained by women who have one or more child.
The abortion rate among women living below the federal poverty level ($9,570.) is per women (below 100% of poverty) is nearly four times that of women above 200% of poverty (112 vs. 29 per 1000 women).
The decision to have an abortion is never simple. The reasons women provide for having an abortion underscores their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life. Three-fourths of women cite concerns for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner. Lack of money ranks very high. Many feel the responsible course of action is to wait until their situation is more suited to child rearing; 66% plan to have children when they are older and financially able to provide for a child and/or in a supportive relationship with a partner so their children can have two parents. Others wanted to get pregnant and developed serious medical problems, learned that the fetus had severe abnormalities, or experienced some other personal crisis. Each year, about 13,000 women have abortions because they became pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
Only 1% of women say they have been forced or pressured into having an abortion. There are some women who do not want to continue their pregnancy but are pressured to do so by family members, friends, or fear of social stigma. Pre-abortion counseling is designed to determine whether a woman is fully comfortable with her abortion decision, and if she is not, she is encouraged to wait until she has had a chance to consider her options more fully.
Most women do not later regret their decision to terminate their pregnancy. Relief is the most common emotional response following abortion, and psychological distress appears to be felt the greatest before, rather than after, an abortion.
There are undoubtedly some women who, in hindsight, wish that they had made a different choice and the majority would prefer never to have become pregnant when the circumstances were not right for them. When a wanted pregnancy is ended (for medical reasons) women may experience a sense of loss and grief. As with any major change or decision involving loss, a crisis later in life sometimes leads to a temporary resurfacing of sad feelings surrounding the abortion. Women at risk for post-abortion adjustment are those who do not get the support they need, or whose abortion decisions are actively opposed by people who are close to them.
54% of women having abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant. Among those women, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users report having used their method inconsistently, while 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users report correct use. There is no contraceptive method that can prevent pregnancy 100% of the time.
46% percent of women who have abortion had not used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant. Of these women, 33% had perceived themselves to be at low risk for pregnancy, 32% had concerns about contraceptive methods, 26% had unexpected sex and 1% had been forced to have sex.
8% of women who have abortion have never used a method of birth control; non-use is greatest among those who are young, poor, black, Hispanic or less educated.
About half of unintended pregnancies occur among the 11% of women who are at risk for unintended pregnancy but are not using contraceptives. Most of these women have practiced contraception in the past.
Most women who have an abortion have not had one previously (52%) or only one previous abortion (26%). If women used abortion as their primary method of birth control, they would be getting pregnant 2 or 3 times a year. With nearly 30 years of possibly becoming pregnant abortion can’t be used as any woman’s primary source of birth control. There is also a very high likelihood of having one or two unintended pregnancies over a thirty year period of time.
Safety of Abortion
Risk associated with abortion is minimal. Less than 0.3% of abortion patients experience a complication that requires hospitalization.
Abortions performed in the first trimester pose virtually no long-term risk of problems such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth defect, and little or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries.
Following exhaustive reviews, the U.S. and British governments have concluded that there is no association between abortion and breast cancer. There is also no indication that abortion is a risk factor for other cancers.
The risk of death associated with abortion increases with the length of pregnancy, from one death for every one million abortions at or before eight weeks to one per 29,000 at 16-20 weeks, and one per 11,000 at 21 or more weeks. The latter numbers have decreased significantly over the past 10 years due to advancement in abortion surgical procedure techniques and the new medications used to terminate pregnancy.
58% of abortion patients say they would have liked to have had their abortion earlier. Nearly 60% of women who experienced a delay in obtaining an abortion cite the reasons were the time it took to make arrangements and raise money.
Unfortunately, teens are more likely than older women to delay having an abortion until 15 weeks of pregnancy, when the medical risks associated with abortion are significantly higher.
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