Tags: WHO | Official | Admits | Legal | Abortion | Not | 'Safe'

WHO Official Admits Legal Abortion Not 'Safe'

Monday, 07 March 2005 12:00 AM

Dr. Gunta Lazdane, European Regional Advisor to WHO on Reproductive Health and Research, said that, "up to 20% of maternal deaths are due to abortion, even in those situations were abortion is legal, there is a question whether 'safe' abortion is safe."

However, international pro-abortion advocates often claim that only illegal abortions are unsafe. Thus, to address maternal deaths due to unsafe abortions, they argue that nations should recognize a broad right to abortion.

This reasoning is even found in WHO's own reports on reproductive health. In a 1997 document entitled "Unsafe Abortion: Global and Regional Estimates of Incidence of Mortality Due to Unsafe Abortion," WHO states that, "Estimates for 1990 indicate that almost 30 million legal terminations of pregnancy were performed. Millions of abortions, however, were performed outside the legal system, often by unskilled providers, and these abortions are unsafe."

The document then goes on to assert that laws against abortion result in a massive increase in maternal deaths. According to WHO, "Restrictive legislation is associated with high rates of unsafe abortion. In the case of Romania, for example, the number of abortion-related deaths increased sharply after November 1966 when the government tightened a previously liberal abortion law. Abortions were legalized again in December 1989 and, by the end of 1990, maternal deaths caused by abortions dropped to around 60 per 100 000 live births." WHO does not explain why Romania, with its extremely tumultuous social and political history, holds lessons for international policymakers.

However, based upon this information, WHO seems to call for the worldwide legalization of abortion, stating that nations should "frame abortion laws and policies on the basis of a commitment to women's health and well-being rather than on criminal codes and punitive measures." If Lazdane is correct, however, and legal abortions are also unsafe for women, then these arguments would appear to lose much of their weight.

Lazdane was speaking at the Global Population Forum 2004, which was organized by the Population Institute and Population 2005, an alliance of reproductive rights groups. The Board of Directors of Population 2005 includes former high-ranking officials of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and U.N. Under Secretary General H.E. Anwarul Chowdhury.

Other speakers at the conference were more typical. Alfonso Lopez Juarez, former head of the Mexican Family Planning Association, called the Catholic Church and the "religious right" "fanatics." He also said that, "Nothing is sinful about sexuality if you avoid pregnancy and STD's [sexually transmitted diseases]."

Copyright, 2004 - C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute).

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Dr. Gunta Lazdane, European Regional Advisor to WHO on Reproductive Health and Research, said that, "up to 20% of maternal deaths are due to abortion, even in those situations were abortion is legal, there is a question whether 'safe' abortion is safe." However,...
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2005-00-07
Monday, 07 March 2005 12:00 AM
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