Impacts of Unwanted Pregnancy
December 21, 2006 4:56am CST
Many women in every country—more than half in some countries—say their last pregnancy or child was unwanted or mistimed. Unwanted pregnancies and births can have many negative consequences, for the children themselves, their siblings, their parents, and the society as a whole. Older women, and women who have already borne several children, face increased risk of complications and death in childbirth, especially in conditions of poverty and where health facilities are far away. More than one in four pregnancies worldwide each year ends in abortion, many performed under clandestine and unsafe conditions. Unsafe abortion is a major cause of maternal death worldwide and has a devastating public health impact—as measured by deaths, illnesses, injuries and the costs of emergency care. More than half of women seeking abortions are married with children, although in many countries the proportion of young, unmarried women having abortions is increasing. Expanding family planning services reduces the numbers of abortions—and the number of women who die as a consequence of unsafe abortion. This is especially true when greater access to contraception is combined with effective sexuality education.