Sunday, November 8, 2009

Welcome to My Soapbox

Inspired by the complete and total idiocy of certain American politicians, I am going to use this opportunity to imagine what our country would look like if abortion were criminalized.

Let's take the example of Uganda, where I am currently living. Abortion is illegal in Uganda, except in cases where the mother's life is at risk.
Then again, when is it not at risk? The (official) maternal mortality ratio in Uganda is 440 per 100,000 live births (in contrast, that number in the United States is 13).

A report by the Guttmacher Institute estimates that 297,000 induced abortions occur in Uganda every year, and 85,000 women are treated for complications of abortion every year. (Imagine how many have complications and are not treated.)

Half of all pregnancies in Uganda are unintended, and one in five pregnancies ends in abortion.

Unsafe abortion causes 13% of maternal deaths worldwide.

Making abortion illegal doesn't make it any less frequent. In fact, the opposite is true. Abortion rates are lowest in Western Europe (12 per 1000 women), somewhat higher in the US (21 per 1000 women), and while the worldwide average is 29 per 1000 women, the rate in Uganda is 54 per 1000 women.

While politicians grandstand about conception and life and babies from the comfort of their privileged lives, women are making risky choices and dying because someone else wanted to make that choice for them. They show up in the hospital septic, bleeding, and unconscious, with holes, sticks or cassava stems in their uteruses.

Women shouldn't die because they got pregnant. Maybe it's time to stop lamenting the morality of abortion, and start recognizing the reality of it.

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