China liberalized its abortion law in the 1950s and promoted the practice as part of its one-child policy, passed in 1979 to curb population growth by limiting families to one child. The policy under which abortion services were widely available was accompanied by strict enforcement measures – including fines, forced sterilization and abortion – to deter unauthorized births. China raised this long-standing limit for a two-child policy in 2016, along with other incentives to boost population growth amid a rapidly aging population. Activists fear that the government, which is trying to control demography, will again take coercive measures to restrict women. Now, there are a lot of reservations about the new study. First, health officials in some countries collect very little data on abortion procedures. Bearak and his team had to estimate abortion rates and unwanted pregnancies using a computer model. They created this model based on survey data collected as part of a United Nations initiative that tracks the “prevalence of contraceptives and unmet needs for family planning” around the world. In many circumstances, those who have no choice but to resort to unsafe abortions also risk prosecution and punishment, including imprisonment, and may face cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and discrimination in vital post-abortion health care. 2006 estimates show that complications of unsafe abortions cost health systems in developing countries $553 million per year for post-abortion treatment. In addition, households experienced income losses of $922 million due to long-term disability related to unsafe abortions (8).
Countries and health systems could achieve significant financial savings by providing better access to modern contraception and quality induced abortion (6, 7). “These findings underscore the importance of ensuring access to all sexual and reproductive health services, including contraceptive and abortion care, and making additional investments in equity in health services,” the authors say. A 2009 literature review by the Guttmacher Institute identified 18 peer-reviewed studies that analyzed the impact of government restrictions on Medicaid funding on abortion frequency (Henshaw et al. 2009). These methodologically diverse studies used abortion data from a variety of sources. Overall, of the 18 studies they reviewed, 15 found statistically significant evidence that abortion rates dropped after Medicaid funding was cut. However, an extremely wide range of economic and health research clearly shows that various legal safeguards for unborn children reduce the frequency of abortions. In addition, there is also important academic research showing that even progressive pro-life laws prevent some abortions from occurring. This note will summarize academic research that analyzes how the legal status of abortion affects the frequency of abortions. The first part of this note deals with the implications of full legal protection for the unborn child.
The second part of this note will summarize research on the effects of progressive pro-life laws. Preventing women and girls from having access to abortion does not mean that they stop needing it. That is why attempts to ban or restrict abortions do not help reduce the number of abortions, but only force people to seek unsafe abortions. Ending a pregnancy is a common decision made by millions of people – every year, a quarter of pregnancies end in abortion. A 2009 literature review by the Guttmacher Institute identified 16 peer-reviewed studies that analyzed the impact of parental participation laws on the frequency of abortions among minors or adolescents (Dennis et al. 2009). I was able to identify three other peer-reviewed studies for a total of 19 studies. Each of these 19 studies reveals that parental participation laws lead to a statistically significant drop in the abortion rate among minors.
The criminalization of abortion leads to a “deterrent effect” where health professionals may not be able to understand the limitations of the law or apply restrictions more narrowly than the law requires. This may be due to a number of reasons, including personal beliefs, stigma of abortion, negative stereotypes about women and girls, or fear of criminal responsibility. Between the end of 1970 and 1973, abortion policy changed neither at the federal nor state levels. Supreme Court decision roe v. The Wade decision in January 1973 legalized abortion on demand in the United States during the nine months of pregnancy. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clearly shows that abortion rates in the United States have increased in the short and long term. El Salvador is one of only two countries to have introduced new restrictions on abortion since the 1994 Cairo Declaration, which recognized reproductive health as crucial for development. (The other is Nicaragua.) During the revision of the penal code after a devastating thirteen-year civil war, El Salvador amended its abortion law, which in most cases already prohibited the procedure in order to eliminate all exceptions, thus imposing a general ban.