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Quick Hit: Unsafe Abortion Practices Are Leading Cause of Maternity Deaths

According to Aljazeera America, one of the most common maternity related deaths globally includes unsafe abortions complications. Charities and organizations based around women’s health emphasize that 800 women a day die from pregnancy or childbirth related death. They fail to note however, that 1 out of 8 of those women die from unsafe abortions. Yet, in most of these countries where the death rates are high, abortion is legal. Why would women be forced into unsafe abortion practices in countries without laws against it?

The Helms Amendment has forced women who would normally have access to abortions into unsafe situations, because it claims that US funding for women’s health or global health initiatives cannot be used toward paying for abortions abroad. So any clinic that receives funding from the US Agency for International Development cannot provide abortions for women, even if their countries allow it.

Also, stigma plays a role in women choosing to go to clinics and receive medically safe abortions. Ellen Israel, a senior technical adviser for women’s health and rights at Pathfinder International said, “It’s why women hide. It’s why they don’t come. It’s why they come late…. “ and even put themselves in more harmful situations. Even if the country provides access, women still feel social stigma and cultural othering for taking part, so they turn to more secretive measures, which aren’t always safe.

Whether abortion is funded or not, legal or not, unsafe abortions will most likely still happen. We need to increase awareness about how to educate communities on what services are available and start to increase conversations on acceptance for choice in women’s reproductive health instead of perpetuating stigma.

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