The need for access to safe and legal abortion

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. George Mathew, a fourth-year medical student at Medical University – Pleven. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


With the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court of the United States, the constitutional right to abortion that had been granted by this ruling in 1973 is no longer available in America and the availability and ease of access to abortion have been left up to the individual states to legislate upon.
Abortion or an induced termination of pregnancy is an essential element of women’s healthcare. It is a medical procedure that like any other, must be a decision that is made by the patient in consultation with their healthcare provider.


An induced abortion may be a decision that is taken due to a myriad of reasons, which can include contraceptive failure, incest, rape, exposure to teratogenic medication due to illness during pregnancy, and many others.


Complications during pregnancy like preeclampsia, placental abruption, or bleeding from placenta previa can all become severe enough that the only means to save the woman’s life or preserve her health is an abortion.


Hence the need for legal abortions (with a case-fatality rate of 0.4 deaths per 100,000 legal induced abortions) in America becomes more evident. Also, women who live where abortion is illegal or highly restricted become more compelled to resort to unsafe methods to end unwanted pregnancies which can result in high mortality rates. Complications from such unsafe procedures comprise approximately 13% of all maternal deaths, nearly 50,000 annually, across the world.


In America, it is estimated that 25% of women will have an abortion at the end of their reproductive years. 6 in 10 of these women are already mothers and 92% of women undergo this procedure in the first trimester. 49% of women that have an abortion are below the poverty line and often the main reason to undergo an elective abortion is an economical one. According to the “Turnaway Study” by Diana Foster, the economical trajectory of women that were unable to receive an abortion and were “turned away”, was far worse than those that were able to access it.


Thus health policy should never be swayed or dictated by political ideologies but must only be formulated based on evidence-based medicine.


There is a dire need to ease access to abortion and help those that are in restrictive situations. In the short-term:
• Circulate and promote information about abortion that is specific to the laws of that area and its availability in neighboring states or localities.
• Donate to abortion funds that help individuals to travel out of state and/or pay for abortion.
• Support companies that provide their employees with benefits that help them access abortions easier.


In the long term:
• Enshrine abortion rights by legislating laws at the federal level (with constitutional amendments) and at the state level.
• Vote for politicians who support reproductive rights and hold them accountable at the ballot box in subsequent elections.
Attaining freedoms requires tireless striving and so will this battle for reproductive freedom.

About the author

George Mathew is a fourth-year medical student at Medical University – Pleven. He is from the state of Kerala in India and is currently living in Pleven, Bulgaria to study medicine.
He is part of the Standing Committee on Human Rights and Peace (SCORP) in Pleven and is passionate about issues like modern war crimes, the influence of corporations in governmental policy making, climate change and migration & refugee flows. He is also the current Ambassador to Pleven (Bulgaria) for The European Student Think Tank.

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