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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

February-24-03

Abortion is a Global Issue

The number of women and adolescents worldwide lacking access to information about family planning and reproductive health services is probably in the hundreds of millions – much higher than official United Nations estimates. According to 1997 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates, this number is around 150 million women. Population Action International reports this number is more than 350 million women. In the year 2000, nearly 3.5 million deaths in the world stemmed from poor or nonexistent reproductive health services (UNFPA). In addition, the Alan Guttmacher Institute estimates that of 210 million pregnancies each year, at least 62-80 million are unintended and 46 million result in abortion. Out of 514,000 childbirth or pregnancy-related deaths each year, some 80,000 result from complications of unsafe, mostly illegal abortion (PAI, "A World of Difference" 2001). Some experts place the number of deaths due to botched illegal abortions much higher, at 200,000 per year.

Much of the data collected on family planning and reproductive health services in poor countries applies to married women and ignores adolescents and unmarried women. Many poor countries have inadequate health information reporting systems. Where abortion is illegal, the level of injury and death from unsafe abortion is often grossly underreported. At the 1994 United Nations Conference on Population and Development, 179 countries agreed that $17 billion per year would be required to provide universal comprehensive reproductive health care services for women around the world, including family planning. By the year 2015, $22 billion per year would be required. Up to 2/3 of this money was expected to come from developing countries.

While developing countries are providing most of their share of needed resources, support from international donors is less than half of the $5.7 billion called for in 2000. In addition, the 1994 estimates only included modest resources needed for HIV/AIDS prevention, leaving a significant gap in funding for the treatment of people living with AIDS because of the rapidly advancing epidemic in developing countries (UNFPA, "State of the World Population" 2000).

LEARN MORE Click here to read women's narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.

Media Resources: Feminist Majority Foundation


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

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