What are politicians really talking about when they debate restrictions on a woman’s right whether to carry through a pregnancy? Make no mistake. The highly organized — and often devious — worldwide campaign against abortion rights is a frontal assault upon every aspect of women’s freedom and our very lives.
“When an airplane crash kills 500 people it makes international headlines for days. The number of women worldwide who die from illegal abortions amounts to one to two such airplane crashes every single day, and this makes no news anywhere,” David Grimes, M.D., told the 1996 National Abortion Federation Conference.
This daily massacre is only part of the ambush. Women denied abortions are forced to face life-threatening risks from unwanted pregnancies and childbirths, risks that are extreme in many parts of the world. Maternal deaths are highest in countries where abortions are banned and laws are most restrictive. For example, Ghana, Zaire, Mali, and Congo have one maternal death per 100 births (compared with 1 in 3,300 in the U.S. and 1 in 7,300 in Canada), according to recent studies by Population Action International and UNICEF. Reproductive rights include not only safe, legal abortions on demand but freedom from coerced abortions and sterilizations and freedom from rape and other sexual coercion. In the People’s Republic of China women are forced to undergo abortions to comply with the one-child rule. And in the former Soviet Union, abortions are performed so poorly that many women subsequently experience infertility and other physiological damage.
The pressure on women is mounting. Abortion laws have become more restrictive in some nations since 1990, most notably the former East Germany and Poland. Anti-abortion groups have mounted a global campaign. They are well-funded, well-armed, and well-marketed. They’ve succeeded in putting restrictions on U.S. foreign aid to health facilities that perform abortions, buttressing the most reactionary laws against women worldwide. Instead of supporting rational population control and health objectives, our tax dollars are being used to advance the cause of religious theocracy at home and abroad.
Women’s rights are in a state of emergency. Join us in sounding the alarm.
— The Editors of On The Issues