BEREGA, Tanzania — A handwritten ledger at the hospital tells a grim story. For the month of January, 17 of the 31 minor surgical procedures here were done to repair the results of “incomplete abortions.” A few may have been miscarriages, but most were botched operations by untrained, clumsy hands.
Abortion is illegal in Tanzania (except to save the mother’s life or health), so women and girls turn to amateurs, who may dose them with herbs or other concoctions, pummel their bellies or insert objects vaginally. Infections, bleeding and punctures of the uterus or bowel can result, and can be fatal. Doctors treating women after these bungled attempts sometimes have no choice but to remove the uterus.
Pregnancy and childbirth are among the greatest dangers that women face in Africa, which has the world’s highest rates of maternal mortality — at least 100 times those in developed countries. Abortion accounts for a significant part of the death toll.
In most countries the rates of abortion, whether legal or illegal — and abortion-related deaths — tend to decrease when the use of birth control increases. But only about a quarter of Tanzanians use contraception. In South Africa, the rate of contraception use is 60 percent, and in Kenya 39 percent. Both have lower rates of maternal mortality than does Tanzania.
to me, this is the key point in any discussion of reproductive rights:
anti-reproductive rights activists should be the most STALWART birth control, safe sex and family planning supporters. period. end of story. preventing unwanted pregnancies = preventing abortion.
you don't cure an infection by addressing only the symptoms. you attack the CAUSE of the infection in order to make the symptons disappear. the "bad kind" of abortion is primarily the symptom of unwanted pregnancies. so STOP THEM. educate women, provide the resources they need, and STOP RAPE NOW.