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The problem of unsafe abortions in the world and in Armenia

September 28th has been proclaimed as the International Day for Safe Abortion Access. The initiative was launched in the 1990s in the context of the fight against the abortion ban in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2016, the initiators sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General proposing to include that day in the UN calendar. However, the issue remained open due to resistance from pro-abortion advocates, who classify abortions as murder and do not consider safe abortion in terms of women’s reproductive health and rights.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO) standards, an unplanned pregnancy abortion by a person who does not have the necessary skills or in an environment that does not meet minimum medical standards is defined as unsafe abortion. According to the WHO, around 25 million unsafe abortions are performed annually (45% of all abortions), and about 47,000 women die from complications due to dangerous abortion methods. However, the Sustainable Development Goals set a target to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health services by 2030. The criminalization of abortion and the lack of access to safe abortion are manifestations of gender discrimination. However, abortion laws apply to about 40% of the world’s population.


Although Armenia is not one of the countries that ban abortions, there is also the problem of safe abortions in our country…


Every fourth woman in Armenia has had an abortion at least once in her life. The abortion rate reaches its highest level in the 25-29 age group and decreases among older women. And that’s always been the case. But official statistics show that the number of abortions has been declining in recent years.


According to a report provided by the Ministry of Health of Armenia to WomenNet.am, the reduction in abortion rates was recorded in all age groups. The sharpest decline in the abortion age coefficient was in the age group of women aged 30-34, where the coefficient decreased by almost 50%.


At the same time, the agency notes that official abortion statistics are incomplete, as cases of drug abortion are frequently observed, often on their own, without consulting a doctor. That is, the fact that abortion statistics have a positive dynamics does not mean that their numbers have actually dropped significantly, as statistics on drug abnormalities are invisible.


Although the sale of the well-known X drug intended to abort pregnancy is prohibited, in the absence of proper control it can still be purchased at drugstores without serious hindrance. As a result, women use it without consulting a physician to interrupt pregnancy, even at a health risk. And there are no statistics on how many women have been strangled or even died as a result. This information is probably present in criminal cases, which are not always public.


According to a 2016 United Nations Population Fund study, in rural areas, where the use of “X” drugs is high, women see abortion as an artificial or spontaneous abortion rather than abortion. According to them, abortion requires medical equipment and tools.


Researcher Ruzanna Tsaturyan notes that women resort to popular methods of abortion to avoid gynecological services because they have to pay, travel, have connections, and so on.


One of the consequences of unsafe abortions is secondary infertility. The infertility rate in Armenia is 17% (the WHO limit is 15%). Primary infertility makes up 5% of the overall rate, and secondary infertility makes up almost 12%. Sometimes it is caused by postnatal complications, hormonal disorders, and more commonly, previous abortions. Experts warn that even a doctor-controlled abortion is no guarantee that the woman will become pregnant again in the future. As a result, one in six couples in Armenia, with the intention of giving birth to a baby, cannot do so because of infertility…

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