Abortion restrictions don't lower rates, report says

Laws that seek to limit abortions around the world may not lower the rate of abortions but could make them less safe,...

Posted: Mar 22, 2018 9:49 AM
Updated: Mar 22, 2018 9:49 AM

Laws that seek to limit abortions around the world may not lower the rate of abortions but could make them less safe, according to a new report that illustrates the trend.

In countries with the fewest restrictions, only 1% of abortions were the "least safe" kind from 2010 to 2014. That number jumps to 31% in the most restrictive countries, according to the report, released Tuesday by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights think tank.

Abortion restrictions don't prevent abortions, experts say

These restrictions may increase unsafe abortions, which may have health risks

During the same period, abortions happened roughly as frequently in the most restrictive countries as they did in the least restrictive: 37 versus 34 abortions each year for every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44.

"Restricting abortion laws does not eliminate the practice of abortion," said Gilda Sedgh, principal research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute and one of the report's authors.

Abortion rates have dropped globally over the past 25 years, driven by increased and more effective contraceptive use, Sedgh said. Procedures have also become safer overall, in large part due to the increasing use of medications that are effective in terminating pregnancy, the report said.

A study last year by researchers at the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization found that 45% of abortions performed between 2010 and 2014 were considered unsafe, meaning they didn't use both a recommended abortion method and a trained provider.

Unsafe-abortions can lead to complications, such as heavy bleeding, infection, damage to internal organs or an incomplete abortion, according to the WHO. Complications can sometimes be fatal.

Countries that have seen falling abortion rates since the '90s are more likely to be developed countries, which tend to have fewer abortion restrictions and wider access to contraceptives. Abortion rates in developing regions haven't changed much overall.

About 42% of women of reproductive age live in countries "where abortion is highly restricted," according to the report, versus 37% who live "where abortion is available without restriction as to reason -- with maximum gestational limits specified in almost all cases."

US abortion rates have hit a historic low in recent years, according to another report last year by the institute.

However, advocates have warned that increasing restrictions by individual states could delay care and put some women's health at risk.

"The United States has been adding restrictions on a state-by-state basis at an alarming rate over the last few years," said Dr. Jody Steinauer, director of the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco. Steinauer, a practicing ob-gyn, was not involved in the new report.

"The bottom line is that these restrictions ... cause unnecessary harm and delay women in accessing the care they need," Steinauer said.

On Monday, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill that prevents women from getting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. This would have given Mississippi the distinction of having the earliest abortion ban in the country, but a federal judge issued an order Tuesday temporarily blocking it.

Research has shown that restrictive laws in places like Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin and Texas did not improve outcomes and in some cases led to more hardships such as delayed abortion care, more side effects and higher costs for women.

At the same time, between 2000 and 2017, 28 countries around the world modified their abortion laws, and all but one -- Nicaragua -- broadened access to abortion, the report says. Nepal came the furthest of any country, removing its complete ban on abortion in favor of no restrictions on why someone might seek to terminate their pregnancy.

Some countries, Sedgh said, "are moving toward liberalizing abortion laws, making it legal under broader ground."

"At the same time, in some countries with liberal abortion laws like the US and some former Soviet countries, ideology is making its way into legislation, and more and more restrictions are being imposed."

These restrictive policies are "based on this myth that abortion is a complicated procedure or an unsafe procedure," Steinauer said.

"In fact, it's just the opposite. It is an extremely safe procedure," she said. "It's even safer than a dental extraction."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319948

Reported Deaths: 7371
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22285267
Hinds20719421
Harrison18431317
Rankin13901282
Jackson13718248
Madison10263224
Lee10059176
Jones8467167
Forrest7832153
Lauderdale7261242
Lowndes6517150
Lamar635188
Lafayette6313121
Washington5425137
Bolivar4841133
Panola4670110
Oktibbeha466198
Pearl River4605147
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425873
Monroe4157135
Union415777
Neshoba4063179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386987
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3371111
Alcorn327272
Scott320374
Yazoo314171
Adams308086
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298589
Tippah291968
Prentiss284161
Leake272074
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264642
Grenada264087
George252251
Newton248663
Tishomingo231868
Winston230181
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190474
Stone188433
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135347
Greene131834
Lawrence131124
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127238
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108234
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548657

Reported Deaths: 11306
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810031566
Mobile42105831
Madison35690525
Tuscaloosa26173458
Shelby25607254
Montgomery25081614
Baldwin21868314
Lee16278176
Calhoun14719327
Morgan14629285
Etowah14175364
Marshall12453230
Houston10781287
Elmore10293214
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10162251
Cullman9952201
Lauderdale9603250
DeKalb8972190
Talladega8460184
Walker7338280
Autauga7241113
Blount6945139
Jackson6932113
Colbert6413140
Coffee5635127
Dale4928116
Russell454841
Chilton4476116
Franklin431382
Covington4275122
Tallapoosa4138155
Escambia401680
Chambers3728124
Dallas3607158
Clarke353061
Marion3240107
Pike314378
Lawrence3133100
Winston283472
Bibb268564
Geneva257981
Marengo250565
Pickens236962
Barbour234559
Hale227278
Butler224271
Fayette218862
Henry194543
Randolph187544
Cherokee187345
Monroe180041
Washington170539
Macon163051
Clay160059
Crenshaw155957
Cleburne153444
Lamar146837
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124342
Conecuh113630
Coosa111729
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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