Legal Issues no Barrier to Abortion, New Study finds

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A comprehensive global study of abortion has concluded that abortion rates are similar in countries where it is legal and those where it is not, suggesting that outlawing the procedure does little to deter women seeking it.
The study published today in the medical journal, Lancet, was a collaboration between scientists from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Guttmacher Institute in New York. It found that abortion was safe in countries where it was legal, but dangerous in countries where it was outlawed and performed clandestinely.
WHO estimates that globally, abortion accounts for 13 percent of women's deaths during pregnancy and childbirth, and there are 31 abortions for every 100 live births.
Dr. Paul Van Look, director of the WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research, says the study proved that the law does not influence a woman's decision to have an abortion. He said if there's an unplanned pregnancy, it does not matter if the law is restrictive or liberal.
The legal status of abortion did greatly affect the dangers involved, the researchers said.
Dr. Van Look says generally, where abortion is legal it will be provided in a safe manner. He says the opposite is also true, in that where it is illegal, abortion is likely to be unsafe, performed under unsafe conditions by poorly trained providers.
Abortion is outlawed in Uganda. According to the study, in Uganda 54 of every 1,000 pregnant women in Uganda had an abortion in 2003, twice the rate in the United States where abortion is legal. The data indicated that in 2003 the abortion rate for the United States was 21 for every 1,000 pregnant women.
Abortion is illegal in most of Africa.