Monday, 31 October 2011

Guest post: Let's have a look at those statistics

By La Ranita, cross-posted at ALRANZ's blog

The annual New Zealand abortion statistics were released on Friday. There are some in this country who would (and do) tell us that these statistics are a shocking reflection of all that is wrong in the world, that they show that women are promiscuous slatterns who have no concern for their actions because they can easily terminate any unwanted pregnancy. That young girls are being sent by their guidance counsellors for secret abortions at an alarming rate. That every abortion represents the loss of the next Steve Jobs.

Well, let's have a look at some other statistics shall we?
  • Of all of the abortions that occur worldwide each year, almost half are performed by unskilled individuals, in environments that do not meet minimum medical standards. More than 97% of these unsafe abortions occur in developing countries.

  • Ninety-two percent of abortions in developing nations are unsafe.

  • Worldwide, girls aged 15-19 account for one in four unsafe abortions – that adds up to five million each year.

  • Internationally, approximately 40% of women who have a clandestine abortion experience complications that require treatment.

  • An estimated five million women are hospitalised each year for treatment of abortion-related complications, such as haemorrhage and sepsis.

  • Worldwide, an estimated 68 000 women die as a result of complications from unsafe induced abortions every year – about eight per hour. This fatality rate (approximately 367 deaths per 100 000 unsafe abortions) is hundreds of times higher than that for safe, legal abortion in developed countries.

  • It is estimated that every year nearly 5.5 million African women have an unsafe abortion. As many as 36 000 of these women die from the procedure, while millions more experience short- or long- term illness and disability.                     (Sources: the Guttmacher Institute and UNFPA)

I don't know about you, but I know which set of statistics is the one that upsets me. Accessing a legal and safe abortion should not be shameful, it should bear no stigma, and it should not require negotiation of legal hurdles. It should be a basic human right.


This is part of a week of Pro-Choice Postings hosted here at The Hand Mirror starting on Friday 28th October 2011.  For an index of all the posts, being updated as they go up, please check the Pro-Choice Postings index.  And if you'd like to submit a post for cross-posting, guest posting or linking to please email 


I.M Fletcher said...

Let's have a look at some other statistics - A 2008 study (sources including the Alan Guttmacher Institute which Planned Parenthood uses) shows that 98% of abortions in the United States are for convenience.

Actual percentage of U.S. abortions in "hard cases" are estimated as follows: in cases of rape or incest, 0.3%; in cases of risk to maternal health or life, 1%; and in cases of fetal abnormality, 0.5%. About 98% of abortions in the United States are elective, including socio-economic reasons or for birth control. This includes perhaps 30% for primarily economic reasons.

I know that people like to use cases of rape as a reason for abortion, but that is only 0.3% of cases. Incest and the physical health of mother or baby are similar. So most abortions are for reasons of convenience, and I'd wager the same is the case in New Zealand.

Climbing Trees said...

@I.M. Fletcher Ahh, so you consider anything other than rape, incest or life of the mother to be "convenience"? Poverty, inability to feed your kids, extremes of age, living in abusive relationship, etc., etc. would all fall under "convenience". How, um, convenient. But that aside, why bother making this distinction when you think even in "inconvenient" cases (rape, incest) abortion should be forbidden, too, right? Coz if you don't, then you aren't really anti-choice/anti-abortion. So, again, why make the distinction? Hey, done any campaigning to get sperm producers to take responsibility for their fertility lately? (I'm assuming from your profile pic that you're one of those people who can't get pregnant.)

I.M Fletcher said...

Climbing trees, yes I am against abortion in all cases. I am making the distinction because I know feminists always go back to the argument of rape and incest as reason for abortion and I wanted to make the point first that that is only a small percentage.

As far as rape, have you ever asked a woman who has been raped whether abortion was the best thing? There was a book that came out recently which asked 192 women that question, and the truth is that most women who have suffered through rape don't want to abort. If they have aborted, they say it didn't make things better.

Most people assume that a woman who becomes pregnant through rape or incest would want an abortion. But few people have thought to actually ask women who have been there to talk about what they want or need, or to share their stories.

In this compelling book, 192 women reveal the seldom-heard truth: most women who become pregnant through rape or incest don't want to abort!

Instead, many of the women in this book are calling for compassion, meaningful support, a chance to heal, and real choices for women like them and their unborn children.

Based on the largest survey ever done of women who became pregnant through sexual assault, Victims and Victims reveals that:

Nearly 80 percent of the women who aborted a pregnancy conceived in sexual assault reported that abortion had been the wrong solution.

Most women who had abortions said that abortion only increased the trauma they were experiencing.

In many cases, the victim faced strong pressure or demands to abort and in some cases, especially those involving teenage girls, was even forced to have the abortion by others.

In cases of incest or ongoing sexual abuse, abortion was frequently used by the perpetrator to cover up the abuse, and in many cases the girl was given an abortion with no questions asked and then returned to the abusive situation.

None of the women who gave birth to a child conceived in sexual assault expressed regret or wished they had aborted instead.

Victims and Victors tells the stories of women who became pregnant through rape or incest and either had an abortion or carried to term. It also tells the stories of children (now teens and adults) who were conceived through sexual assault -- including the story of Julie Makimaa, one of the book's co-editors, and her birthmother, Lee Ezell.

These women deserve to be heard. Here is what some of them are saying:

“After my daughter was born, it was love at first sight. I know I made the right decision in having her.” —Nancy

“Often I cry. Cry because I could not stop the attacks. Cry because my daughter is dead. And I cry because it still hurts.” —Edith

“I think that rape victims with pregnancies are discriminated against because people think you're nuts to have a baby by a man who raped you. We are looked upon as being liars, or stupid” —Sharon

"Abortion does not help or solve a problem—it only compounds and creates another trauma for the already grieving victim by taking away the one thing that can bring joy." —Helene

"The effects of the abortion are much more far reaching than the effects of the rape in my life." —Patricia

"I, having lived through rape, and also having raised a child 'conceived in rape,' feel personally assaulted and insulted every time I hear that abortion should be legal because of rape or incest. I feel that we're being used to further the abortion issue, even though we've not been asked to tell our side of the story." —Kathleen

I.M Fletcher said...

ps, I should have said, the title of the book is -

Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions, and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault (ISBN: 0964895714 / 0-9648957-1-4)
by Reardon, David C.;Makimaa, Julie;Sobie, Amy

Climbing Trees said...

@I.M. Fletcher. While you, nor I nor the author of the book can know how many rape victims who fall pregnant want abortions or not (some, most, many, all but one), here's something we do know: All women who get pregnant as a result of rape and want an abortion want an abortion. (It's true because it's a truism.) And while you want to live in a world that forces *those* women (surely you'll admit there must be at least one or two) to continue an unwanted pregnancy that resulted from rape, I want to live in one that allows the women quoted in the book you mention to continue their pregnancies if they so wish, and allows those who do not to end theirs.

La Ranita said...

@I.M Fletcher it bothers me not one tiny bit of 99.7% of abortions (in countries where abortions are safe and legal) are for convenience. Why should it?