In Africa, where 99% of these interventions are done illegally, the number of unsafe abortions is estimated at 4.2 million, representing one abortion for seven live births.
In order better to understand the changes and developments of the situation on these two continents, a research team jointly involving the IRD and “El Colegio de Mexico” examined the results of a range of studies conducted since the early 1990s, approaching this question from a social sciences angle (profile of women concerned by abortion, consequences for their health and life in society, the role of men and so on).
They also looked at the legislation on abortion rights, changes in it over the past 15 years and the debates that run concerning these questions. The legislative framework for abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean remains restrictive, but it is even more so in the African countries where it is founded on laws dating from the colonial period.
Data in the area of abortion is still highly fragmented, difficult to obtain owing to the heavy legal and social penalties women risk if they decide to have an abortion in countries where this act is of limited access, even if not completely prohibited. For Latin America, apart from a study run in urban areas of Colombia, wide-ranging surveys based on representative samples of the population are lacking. In Africa, there is still no public debate on the question of abortion, and the few studies conducted, most often among women who were victims of medical complications, showed a particularly marked rise of such interventions in urban areas.
At present, although none of the 53 countries on the African continent totally forbid abortion, only Cap Verde, Tunisia and South Africa permit abortion on the woman’s demand. Since the Cairo Conference of 1994, during which the African countries made a commitment to respect women’s reproductive rights, 20 of them have made small improvements to the legal framework for abortion.
However, in reality, the progress made is quite limited, pregnancy termination most often being allowed strictly for medical reasons. The legal conditions for access to abortion have indeed worsened since the mid 1990s, becoming more restrictive in four countries of Africa. Congo, Malawi and Swaziland now allow it only as a means of saving the mother’s life. Algeria only accepts it for such a circumstance and to preserve the woman’s physical or mental health, like 17 countries of 41 in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In 2006, six other countries (Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, the Dutch part of Saint Martin, Nicaragua) it was still prohibited. Feminist groups and a civil organization of Catholic women in these countries (“Catholics for the right to decide”), are campaigning for decriminalization of abortion. But these movements are confronted with the conservative positions of the institutions, associations and even health care professionals who sometimes oppose pro-abortion legislation for ethical or religious reasons.
The researchers also sought to define better the profile of women who resort to abortion. In principle, the practice concerns all women of child-bearing age. However, in reality teenage girls are the most concerned by unsafe practices. The absence of recognition of their sexuality, or even pure and simple prohibition, makes access to contraception complicated for them, making abortion quite frequent among young women. Yet scientific data on this question for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean are still extremely patchy.
Better knowledge of the situation is essential for defining suitable health policies, making changes to abortion legislation possible and increasing awareness among the different social actors about the health and social repercussions that can be engendered by a legal framework that penalizes abortion. From the public health point of view, unsafe abortion practices significantly accentuate maternal mortality, but limited access to abortion and non respect of reproductive rights also make it a question of social injustice.
Grégory Fléchet | alfa
The competitive edge: Dietary competition played a key role in the evolution of early primates
01.08.2018 | Grand Valley State University
Diversity and education influence India’s population growth
31.07.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.
This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.
Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...
Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.
"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...
A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.
Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...
Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.
An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome, providing the research community with an invaluable resource to decode the response of fish to...
21.09.2018 | Event News
03.09.2018 | Event News
27.08.2018 | Event News
21.09.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
21.09.2018 | Life Sciences
21.09.2018 | Event News