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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.

Confirmed Cases: 68293

Reported Deaths: 1944
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5656118
DeSoto368031
Harrison253036
Madison244368
Rankin229235
Jackson228843
Jones191659
Forrest182056
Washington168942
Lee147941
Lauderdale141192
Neshoba128692
Lamar122614
Oktibbeha112739
Bolivar111834
Warren109533
Lowndes108538
Panola106214
Sunflower105425
Scott100320
Lafayette98317
Copiah95728
Leflore94765
Pike93836
Holmes90049
Grenada84921
Yazoo83312
Lincoln83241
Pontotoc8308
Simpson80330
Monroe80155
Leake79025
Wayne77421
Coahoma77213
Tate73629
Marshall7019
Marion68420
Union64316
Adams62925
Winston62316
Covington62113
George5895
Pearl River55439
Newton54311
Tallahatchie53011
Attala52325
Walthall50120
Chickasaw47019
Noxubee45912
Alcorn4345
Tishomingo4216
Calhoun4209
Prentiss41710
Claiborne40913
Smith40613
Clay39714
Hancock39514
Jasper3889
Itawamba37510
Tippah36713
Tunica3517
Clarke32626
Montgomery3265
Lawrence3228
Yalobusha31510
Humphreys29411
Quitman2701
Carroll26111
Greene25512
Perry2437
Amite2356
Webster23512
Kemper23414
Jefferson Davis2336
Wilkinson21113
Stone2055
Sharkey1995
Jefferson1957
Benton1431
Choctaw1354
Franklin1312
Issaquena262
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 99926

Reported Deaths: 1781
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13258244
Mobile10517207
Montgomery6835149
Madison544734
Tuscaloosa423076
Baldwin365125
Unassigned363064
Shelby330936
Marshall318937
Lee270047
Morgan241118
Etowah216232
DeKalb183013
Calhoun180717
Elmore173138
Walker153964
Houston141912
Russell13872
St. Clair135418
Limestone134913
Dallas133123
Franklin128820
Cullman122712
Colbert120716
Lauderdale118919
Autauga117421
Escambia108717
Talladega104814
Jackson10144
Tallapoosa86579
Chambers84438
Dale83525
Clarke82610
Blount8124
Chilton8097
Butler76736
Coffee7646
Covington73720
Pike7087
Marion58026
Barbour5765
Lowndes57324
Marengo56515
Hale47826
Bullock46611
Winston45711
Perry4454
Washington44312
Bibb4425
Wilcox43210
Monroe4215
Pickens4049
Randolph40310
Conecuh39310
Sumter36418
Lawrence3512
Macon33914
Crenshaw3265
Choctaw28712
Cherokee2758
Henry2643
Clay2635
Geneva2631
Greene25211
Lamar2292
Fayette2125
Cleburne1271
Coosa1033
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