The Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide, has released a video entitled "Abortion Worldwide" to raise awareness of some of the issues surrounding abortion rights in the U.S. and other parts of the world.
According to Guttmacher's research, regardless of the laws they live under, women have abortions for reasons that are largely the same everywhere. Sometimes a pregnancy comes too close on the heels of the birth of a previous child that still needs constant care and feeding. Some women seeking abortions cite the need to focus on caring for the children they have or the fact that they can't afford to raise an additional child. Some women are not in relationships they feel would be conducive to child-rearing and others just wish to complete their educations before taking on the duties and obligations of parenting.
The institute also found that the types of laws governing abortion procedures in a given country or state have little to no effect on the incidence of abortion in that area.
"Some of the highest abortion rates in the world are in Latin America and Africa, where abortion is highly restricted in almost every country, but where women have many unintended pregnancies," the video stated.
The lowest abortion rates, on the other hand, are in western Europe, "where abortion is legal and widely accessible." It is in these areas, though, that effective, modern contraceptives are available, reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies.
The way to reduce abortion, therefore, is not to make it illegal, but to make contraceptives more widely available.
The video estimates that 222 million women in the developing world are trying to avoid pregnancy, but aren't using a modern contraceptive method. Many have no access to family planning services at all.
Offering women reproductive counseling and empowering them to make their own decisions about when to have children could potentially reduce the worldwide number of unwanted pregnancies from 88 million to 26 million, and there would be 26 million fewer abortions each year, according to Guttmacher.
Making abortion illegal only drives it underground, where women are sometimes treated by unlicensed caregivers in unsafe conditions. 47,000 women die of complications from unsafe abortions each year. Nearly all of these deaths occur in countries with rigid anti-abortion laws. Millions more are injured.
"It is the basic right of every woman to decide whether and when to have a child without having to put her health or her life at risk," the video said. "It is time for all countries to make that right a reality."
Watch the video, embedded via YouTube, below: