Would it not be great if the phrase “my body, my choice” was always applicable, especially in the discussion of abortions? In recent times, it seems like the belief that access to safe abortions is a matter of human rights, is only but a myth. Celebrating the month of women; March, would certainly be accompanied by a better feeling if we truly were able to make decisions about our own bodies and lives.

It must not be forgotten that reproductive rights are essential for women to enjoy their human rights. These rights are centered on women’s ability to make the best choices for their lives, including around the number of children they have, if any, and the spacing between their children’s births. Reproductive rights include prenatal services, safe childbirth, and access to contraception. They also include access to legal and safe abortion. Abortion bans violate the rights to be free from violence, to privacy, to family, to health, and even the right to life. And bans are most devastating for people of color, young people, and marginalized communities, who already have trouble accessing health care and other needed services.

The Effects Of Restrictive Abortion Laws

A young lady gets raped and is pregnant as a result of it. She decides to get an abortion but realizes that the decision is not hers to make. With desperation, she is shown other unsafe methods by her peers and goes through with one. She’s at high risk for a hemorrhage, bleeds profusely and dies due to the unsafe abortion. This scenario is unfortunately not uncommon: 45% of all abortions are unsafe. An abortion can be a very safe procedure. However, because of restrictive abortion laws women are forced to take risks that can easily be prevented if they were allowed the choice to terminate a pregnancy safely.

Each year according to the WHO, 4.7–13.2% of maternal deaths can be attributed to unsafe abortion. 23,000 women die each year as a result of unsafe abortions. In developed regions, it is estimated that 30 women die for every 100,000 unsafe abortions. In developing regions, that number rises to 220 deaths per 100,000 unsafe abortions. Estimates from 2012 indicate that in developing countries alone, 7 million women per year were treated in hospital facilities for complications of unsafe abortion. It is quite staggering that a woman would not be assisted by a medical facility to have a safe abortion, but would be tended to by the same facility for complications from an unsafe abortion. In 2006, estimates showed that it cost health systems in developing countries US$ 553 million per year for post-abortion treatments. Also, due to long-term disability related to unsafe abortions, households experienced US$ 922 million in loss of income.The results of unsafe pregnancies ultimately cost more money than is necessary and can be significantly reduced if abortion services became easily accessible to all women.

How can gender equality be achieved if in this day and age, the decisions surrounding a woman’s body and what should be allowed are not made by women themselves. It is quite disheartening that yearly, women are celebrated and yet, there has not been that much advancement in how much power women hold. To promote the disguise of gender equality, arguments about how many women hold vital positions in different sectors such as politics, technology and so on are made. However, what spells out equality more than an individual’s ability to make choices that affect her directly by herself? 41% of women live under restrictive abortion laws which often forces them to undertake an unsafe route which could result in preventable complications or death.

As we celebrate women, we should include abortion and reproductive health in our efforts to improve gender inequality. If we really want to see advancement in gender equality, then governments ought to trust women to know what is best for their bodies, their physical and mental health, and their lives in general.

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