Safe Abortions: A Question Of Sound Public Health Policy And Practise.

Abortions are a highly sensitive and often contentious issue, with proponents arguing for individual choice and opponents arguing for the protection of unborn life. Despite this, the fact remains that abortion is a reality, and one which requires thoughtful and responsible consideration when considering public health policy and practice. The right to a safe and legal abortion is enshrined in numerous international human rights conventions. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes that access to safe and legal abortions is essential for public health, and that unsafe abortions are a major cause of maternal mortality and morbidity. This means that it is incumbent upon states to ensure that safe and legal abortion services are available. For more information visit us,

The Health Concerns Associated With Unsafe Abortions 

The health concerns associated with unsafe abortions are numerous and varied. Unsafe abortions are associated with a range of short-term and long-term complications, both physical and psychological. Short-term physical complications of unsafe abortions include incomplete abortion, heavy bleeding, infections, and perforation of the uterus. Incomplete abortions can occur when the fetus or placenta are not completely removed from the uterus, resulting in pain and the need for additional medical interventions. 

Heavy bleeding can also occur due to the trauma of the procedure, or due to tearing or puncturing of the uterus. Infections can occur if the procedure is performed using contaminated instruments, or if the wound is not properly cleaned and dressed. Perforation of the uterus may occur due to the use of sharp instruments, and can result in serious complications, such as damage to nearby organs.

Physical Health Risks 

Unsafe abortions can lead to a range of physical health risks, ranging from minor to severe. These risks include infection, haemorrhage, and even death. Infection is a common risk associated with unsafe abortions. Unsterile instruments and lack of proper medical care can lead to infection in the uterus, cervix, or other reproductive organs. This can cause severe pain and lead to further complications, such as sepsis and infertility. Haemorrhage is another serious risk associated with unsafe abortions. 

When an abortion is performed incorrectly, excessive bleeding can occur, leading to a dangerous drop in blood pressure and even organ failure. Death is the most extreme physical health risk associated with unsafe abortions. Unsafe abortions may lead to infection, haemorrhage, or other medical complications that can be fatal if not treated quickly. The World Health Organization estimates that unsafe abortions are responsible for up to 13% of maternal deaths worldwide.

Mental Health Risks 

Unsafe abortions can have a variety of mental health risks for the woman involved, ranging from short-term to long-term effects. In the short-term, unsafe abortions can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and regret, as well as mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. These feelings can be exacerbated by the fact that the woman often does not have access to counselling or mental health support. 

In the long-term, the mental health effects of unsafe abortions can be even more devastating. Women may experience chronic PTSD, depression, and anxiety, as well as feelings of guilt and shame. Research has also found that women who have had unsafe abortions are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as substance abuse, self-harm, and suicidal ideation. Additionally, women who experience unsafe abortions may be more likely to suffer from reproductive health problems in the future, such as infertility. All of these risks can have a major impact on a woman’s mental health and wellbeing.

The Impact Of Unsafe Abortions On Women In Low-Income Countries 

The impact of unsafe abortions on women in low-income countries is far-reaching and devastating. Unsafe abortions can lead to serious medical complications, such as infection, sepsis, haemorrhage, organ damage, and even death. In addition, women who have undergone unsafe abortions may suffer psychological trauma, as well as social stigma and discrimination. Unsafe abortions can also have negative economic consequences for women in low-income countries. 

The cost of an unsafe abortion is often much higher than a safe one, and the procedure may require women to travel long distances to access a provider. Women who have undergone unsafe abortions may be unable to work while they recover, resulting in a loss of income. Furthermore, the cost of medical care for complications caused by unsafe abortions can be prohibitively expensive, putting a strain on already strained health systems.

Access To Safe Abortion Services 

Access to safe abortion services is an important part of providing comprehensive reproductive health care for women. In many countries, access to safe abortion services is restricted by laws that criminalise abortion, or by laws that limit access to abortion services by requiring that certain criteria be met before a woman can obtain an abortion. When access to safe abortion services is limited or criminalised, women are often forced to seek out unsafe and illegal abortions, which can lead to serious medical complications, and even death. 

In countries where abortion is legal, access to safe abortion services is still limited by many factors, including a lack of access to appropriate information, lack of access to trained medical practitioners capable of providing safe abortion services, and the stigma associated with abortion. Women may also face barriers to accessing safe abortion services due to geographical location, cost, and lack of transportation. In order to ensure that women have access to safe abortion services, governments must ensure that laws are in place that protect the rights of women to access safe abortion services, and that these laws are adequately enforced. 

Barriers To Care And The Consequences 

Barriers to access to safe abortion care, and the consequences thereof, can be far-reaching and devastating. In many countries, abortion is still illegal and/or restricted, and women and girls lack access to safe and affordable services to terminate unwanted pregnancies. This denial of access can have serious consequences, including forced motherhood, financial hardship, and physical and psychological health risks. 

Forced motherhood can occur when women are denied access to safe abortion care and are unable to choose if and when to become parents. This can lead to a variety of social and economic problems, such as limited educational opportunities, economic hardship, and a lack of autonomy and freedom. Financial hardship is another consequence of restricted access to safe abortion care. Unintended pregnancies can lead to increased medical costs, lost wages due to time off from work or reduced hours, and an inability to afford contraception.

The Benefits Of Safe Abortions 

Safe abortions can provide numerous benefits to the physical, mental, and emotional health of individuals. Physically, safe abortions can help prevent the risk of infection or injury to the uterus, cervix, or other reproductive organs. This is especially important for women who are at a higher risk for these complications, such as women with compromised immune systems or those who have had multiple abortions. Additionally, safe abortions can also reduce the risk of ectopic pregnancy and other complications associated with an unwanted pregnancy. Mentally and emotionally, safe abortions can help reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, and depression that are often associated with unwanted pregnancies. 

Women who have gone through the process of a safe abortion often report feeling relieved, empowered, and more in control of their reproductive health, as opposed to feeling guilty or ashamed. Safe abortions can also reduce the economic burden of an unwanted pregnancy. This is especially important for women who are living in poverty, as an unwanted pregnancy can often lead to a loss of education, employment, and financial stability. Additionally, safe abortions can help ensure that women have access to the medical care they need to prevent future unwanted pregnancies.

Improved Public Health Outcomes 

Improved public health outcomes from safe abortion are wide-ranging and can have a significant impact on individuals and communities. Access to safe abortion services can reduce rates of unsafe abortion and its associated complications, including injury, infection, infertility, and death. By providing access to safe abortion services, women can avoid the physical and psychological risks associated with unsafe abortion. 

Safe abortion services also help to reduce maternal mortality rates, as well as the risk of long-term physical and psychological consequences resulting from unsafe abortion. In addition, access to safe abortion services can reduce the financial burden associated with unsafe abortion. Women and families who are unable to access safe abortion services may be forced to turn to unsafe options, which can place a financial burden on them. Access to safe abortion services can also reduce the economic burden associated with unintended pregnancies, including costs associated with prenatal care and childbirth.

The Role Of The Healthcare System In Ensuring Safe Abortions 

The healthcare system plays a crucial role in ensuring safe abortions. It is responsible for providing access to safe, effective, and legal abortion services. This includes providing access to quality health care services, such as pre-abortion counselling and post-abortion follow-up care, as well as providing timely and accurate information on abortion services. The healthcare system also has a responsibility to ensure that all abortion services are provided in a safe and caring environment. 

This includes ensuring that all medical staff are adequately trained in abortion procedures, and that all necessary safety measures are taken. This includes proper sterilisation and disinfection of equipment, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect healthcare providers and patients from infection. The healthcare system is also responsible for providing access to contraception, so that unwanted pregnancies can be avoided. This includes providing access to a wide range of contraceptive options, such as the pill, intrauterine devices, and male and female condoms.


Ultimately, the question of safe abortions is a complex one that involves the ethical, medical and legal considerations of how to ensure women can access safe and legal abortions and healthcare. While abortion is still a contested issue in many parts of the world, the overall consensus is that sound public health policy and practice should be based on evidence-based research and a commitment to the health and well-being of women everywhere. As such, safe abortions should be available to all women and girls in order to protect their fundamental right to health and well-being.

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