04 June 2007

The hard numbers of abortion

No less than 460,000 pregnancies are terminated each year in Argentina, most of them illegally, many under unsanitary conditions. One every eight women who abort ends up going to a hospital to deal with complications. Around 100 women a year die from abortion complications — mostly poor women, since getting a safe abortion in secret is easy but expensive.

Seventy-eight percent of women from the three largest cities in Argentina support the decriminalization of abortion up to some degree. Ninety-one percent believe that abortion should be accessible free of charge.

Rosario was the first city in the country to implement a responsible parenthood and reproductive health programme (in 1996). Santa Fe Province passed a law for that in 2001, which started working in 2002. The national state only had one in 2002, that was enforced for the first time more than a year afterwards. In 2003, Minister of Health Ginés González García said he'd support the decriminalization of abortion, and a Catholic bishop called for him to be given the biblical "millstone around the neck" treatment. A week ago, a group of pro-choice NGOs presented Congress with a project of law to legalize all abortions up to the 12th week of pregnancy.

Abortion and its legal issues have never, ever, been discussed in any form in the National Congress.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and many are rising to voice it. It seems, however, that nobody in the high places is willing to debate those opinions, to speak their minds freely and openly present their facts and arguments. I think that silent indifference is the worst that can happen.

1 comment:

  1. The numbers are truly astonishing! Especially since the number of abortions is almost the same as the number of registered births.

    For comparison, here are the annual statistics for two countries I am familiar with (where abortion is legal) – using the latest (highest estimates):

    Argentina (population 40 million) 600 K abortions;
    USA (population 300 million) 1287 K abortions;
    New Zealand (population 4 million) 17.5 K abortions.

    The fact that there are a very high number of terminations in Argentina point to a failure of the state to educate, and provide reproductive services to the female population. Considering the number of women (1 in 8) that seek medical care for complications, it might be cheaper for the state to provide free (or very heavily subsidized) contraceptives.

    Does the Catholic Church hold so much power that no political party can risk supporting abortion rights? If there is so much support from women, wouldn’t that be sufficient reason politically?

    As was reported, wealthier women can procure safe (often physician-assisted) terminations, whereas poorer women are forced to use riskier (but still expensive) alternatives. Maybe this is just a case of apathy and indifference on the part of the (primarily) wealthier Argentines in politics for whom it’s not really a problem.



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