Illegal abortions are killing women in developing countries and restrictions demanded by the USA make it worse

In developing countries, the maternal mortality rate is a staggering 239 per 100,000 women, with an estimated 303,000 women dying in 2015. One in 10 of all maternal deaths are caused by unsafe abortions; an estimated 20 million unsafe abortions are performed every year.

We know that providing access to legal terminations would stop women dying, but this remains an issue that provokes huge debate. Women who can’t access them legally still have abortions, but they have to pay bankrupting sums, often risking their lives.

Backstreet abortions are usually done in an unclean and unsafe environment. If they don’t kill women, they often put them in hospital with horrific complications, leaving them infertile, facing major abdominal surgery and enormous medical bills.

What is stopping women from accessing safe abortions? The first is restrictive laws in their own countries, which can extend to a ban…Ludicrously, this problem is compounded by the fact that countries with the most restrictive abortion laws often have the poorest family planning provision.

The second barrier is the tight regulation governing donor aid. The US has a ban on any of its funding being spent on terminations for women. The Helms amendment, a 43-year-old law, stipulates that abortions cannot be funded as a method of family planning. This means that no US foreign aid is spent on the provision of abortions or even advising or promoting abortion services for women. Recent headlines suggest that the US will not even allow its funds to be used to provide terminations for women who have been raped by Isis fighters…

We know that abortions, when performed legally, are cheap and safe. Yet the grim reality is that tens of thousands of women who die in the developing world each year from unsafe abortions do so because policymakers have decided their lives are not worth saving.

With changes in this policy, maternal mortality could be reduced for a low cost. The technology exists and is affordable. A misoprostol pill that induces an early stage abortion costs less than a dollar. This is not an issue of resources and funding, but a value judgment on what women may or may not do with their lives.

Another look back to the world of the Republican Party and the ideology of patriarchal religion held dear to the heart of 19th Century conservatives.

The United States still relies on a model generated by a religious bigot who hated equal rights for non-white Americans as much as he opposed reproductive rights for women. Jesse Helms was a racist thug kept in office beyond any reasonable function except to stand in opposition to the concept of equal opportunity for class after class of Americans. The Republican Party still honors his memory.

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Chinese official offers glimpse of discussion on human rights

China still has “a long way to go” before its citizens can enjoy full human rights, a senior Chinese official said in a rare admission of the challenges ahead, pointing to social conflict and even rising house prices as stumbling blocks.

Wang Chen, head of the State Council Information Office, said in a speech published in the English-language China Daily Wednesday that while China had made remarkable developments on this front, the way forward would be hard.

“Affected and restricted by natural, historical and cultural factors, and economic and social development levels, the cause of human rights in China is still facing many difficulties and challenges, and there is still a long way to go before achieving the lofty goal of the Chinese citizens fully enjoying human rights,” Wang said.

Our national development remains significantly unbalanced and uncoordinated because of … wide gaps in income distribution, increasing pressures on prices, soaring housing prices in some cities, food safety problems, insufficient and unevenly distributed educational and medical resources, unbalanced urban and rural development, and increasing social conflicts caused by illegal land requisitioning,” he said.

China has long rejected criticism of its human rights’ record, saying providing food, clothing, housing and economic growth are far more relevant for developing countries like it, pointing to success at lifting millions out of poverty…

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