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Blog for Choice 2010 – Trust Women

January 22, 2010

On January 22, 1973 the United States Supreme Court decided the case of Roe v Wade.  The court held that “a woman has the right to choose abortion care until fetal viability” which meant the restrictions on abortion that two thirds of US states had previously enacted became illegal.  Naral Pro Choice America ask us to mark this anniversary each year, and the question posed this year is:

What does Trust Women mean to you?

In the UK, the 1967 Abortion Act  legalised abortion in England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland’s legislation still blocks this act.  With a 1990 amendment, the current situation is that abortion is free and available up until  24 weeks except in cases where it was necessary to save the life of the woman, there was evidence of extreme fetal abnormality, or there was a grave risk of physical or mental injury to the woman. 

Having been pregnant once only and at my planning, I have never had to choose whether to have an abortion or not.  And having been pregnant I doubt whether I would ever choose to have an abortion.  But I will always have the choice.  I am trusted to know if a pregnancy would be a positive thing for my family or quite the opposite.  If this choice wasn’t available to me and I knew I was unable to carry a pregnancy to term and care for that child for the rest of my life, then my only option would be an unsafe abortion.  And that option currently kills an estimated 200 women each and every day.

Unsafe abortion around the world

Every year, approximately 50 million unwanted pregnancies end in abortion. 55,000 abortions a day, over 20 million a year, are unsafe.

The World Health Organisation estimates that unsafe abortions cause the deaths of at least 200 women each day, over 70,000 women each year, yet it is ‘one of the most easily preventable and treatable causes of maternal mortality.’ (WHO Safe Motherhood Conference, 1998.)

  • Between two million and seven million women each year survive unsafe abortion, but sustain long-term damage or disease.
  • The most frequent complications are incomplete abortion, infection (sepsis), haemorrhage and injury to the internal organs, such as puncturing or tearing of the uterus.
  • Long-term health problems include chronic pain, pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.
  • About 95% of unsafe abortions take place in developing countries.
  • In many African countries, up to 70% of women treated for abortion complications are under 20 years old.
  • Unsafe abortion is responsible for one in eight maternal deaths.
  • One of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is to reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio between 1990 and 2015.

The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo stated that, ‘In circumstances in which abortion is not against the law, such abortion should be safe. In all cases, women should have access to quality services for the management of complications arising from abortion.’

These estimated figures show that 20 million women a year have to resort to unsafe abortion – a procedure that will kill or damage them.  These figures are staggering.  If it helps to consider individual women, the lack of choice of a safe abortion killed Gerri Twerdy Santoro.  If she had had the choice of a safe abortion then she could of been a 64 year old woman today, and her two daughters wouldn’t have spent the last 36 years without a mother.  This is why we must trust women – because not trusting women leads to seventy thousand deaths each year.

Abortion must be available to all women legally, promptly, free of charge and locally. 

Anything less is obscene.


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