A global study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Guttmacher Institute found that abortion rates are about the same in countries where it is legal and where it is not.
That’s because pregnant people seek out unqualified abortionists or try to do the job themselves. They are more likely to die or become injured or unable to bear children later, when they’re ready to be good parents.
Deaths among people seeking abortion decreased 90% when it was made legal in South Africa. And in Ethiopia, where the procedure is banned, abortion is the second-leading cause of death among women admitted to hospitals.
Instead of self-righteously condemning abortion, and making laws restricting access, why not do something that keeps pregnant people from feeling a need to get one?
So what prevents abortion?
Interestingly, the more openly a society discusses sexuality, the fewer abortions you get. After all, young people are more educated on their bodies and contraception – which is more available. Some parents worry that the sex talk will encourage experimentation, yet the reverse is true. Kids are less likely to become sexually active, and they are more responsible when the do.
Not surprisingly, the WHO global study found that that the best way to reduce abortion is to make contraception more widely available. When contraception increased in Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism, abortion rates fell by 50%.
Meanwhile, in the US 93% of people having an abortion are adults between the ages of 18-48, and half were using birth control.
Unfortunately, people don’t always use contraception flawlessly. Let’s say you’re on the pill and you remember to take it six hours late? Better use a backup because you are now at serious risk of pregnancy. If you miss two days the pill is considered temporarily ineffective.
Some only use condoms, leaving 15% of users getting pregnant, which is mostly caused by user error. Condoms combined with spermicide are a lot safer.
Long-lasting birth control is best, like surgery, an IUD or an implant inserted into the arm.
Secondary or emergency contraception also bring down abortion rates. But plenty of religious folks fight it, along with regular contraception.
[source: broad blogs, edited for more gender-neutral langauge]