Population Matters

Family Planning Saves Lives

October 15th, 2009

Tuesday the Guttmacher Institute released its report: Abortion Worldwide: A Decade of Uneven Progress, which found that due to an increase in contraceptive use worldwide there has been a decrease in the number of abortions performed between 1995 and 2003. But while the number of overall abortions fell from 45.5 million in 1995 to 41.6 million in 2003, the estimated number of unsafe abortions stayed pretty much the same: 19.9 million in 1995 and 19.7million in 2003, with most of the world’s unsafe abortions taking place in developing countries.

The root cause of most abortions is a pregnancy that the woman or the couple did not plan for, or believed would not occur. Helping women practice contraception to reduce their risk of having unplanned pregnancies can go a long way to bringing down levels of unsafe abortion, as well as the overall level of abortion.

The World Health Organization reports that one in eight maternal deaths are due to unsafe abortions, and seven women die every hour in the developing world from complications related to unsafe abortions. In order to reduce the levels of unsafe abortion it is important to bring down the number of unwanted and unintended pregnancies, and the best way to achieve this goal is by educating women and increasing the use of effective contraceptives.

The Guttmacher report points out that:

A 2003 study estimated that 137 million women in the developing world would like to delay or stop childbearing but are not using any method of contraception, and an additional 64 million are using traditional methods. This study also estimated that satisfying the unmet demand for modern contraceptive methods could avert 52 million unintended pregnancies and 22 million induced abortions every year.

As part of Millennium Development Goal 5, the U.S. and other donor nations are committed to giving all women access to family planning and reproductive health services, but the latest assessments, including this latest Guttmacher report, suggest that we still have a long way to go.  The U.S., at long last, is stepping up its commitments to family planning; other donor nations need to do the same.

A trained counselor provides family planning advice to women at a Sun Quality Health clinic PSI Nepal/ USAID

A trained counselor provides family planning advice to women at a Sun Quality Health clinic PSI Nepal/ USAID

Posted by Jennie Wetter, Program Manager

Leave a Reply