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Comprehensive Policy Package Based On Research Needed To Stem Abortion Figures

“The astounding thing about the global abortion debate is not that some people have deeply held views about what a pregnancy is and when a human existence begins” but that “policymakers continue to ignore carefully amassed information about the actual outcome of programs and laws related to sexuality and reproduction,” Marianne Møllmann, senior policy adviser with Amnesty International’s International Secretariat, writes in this Guardian opinion piece. Møllmann cites an analysis by the U.S.-based Guttmacher Institute, published in the Lancet last week, which she says has two main conclusions: “first, when governments fail to provide contraception for those who want it, abortion figures stay the same; and second, where abortion is illegal, the procedure is predominantly unsafe.”

She writes that “the aggregate data … hides additional details the discerning policymaker should take into account. First, overall abortion and fertility rates present the consolidated result of millions of very personal decisions,” and “[s]econd, the 70,000 women who die annually as a result of unsafe abortion didn’t just die because abortion was illegal in the country they live in. They died because their lives were seen as dispensable by those in charge.” She concludes, “[I]f a key goal is lowering the number of abortions, we should not accept policies that police women’s sexuality based on particular conceptions of morality. In fact, we should accept nothing less than what the data for decades has shown to be effective: a policy package of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care, including support for parenting, gender equality and poverty reduction” (1/20).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.