pro-choice rally Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Normalizing Abortion

On September 28, activists around the world will mark International Safe Abortion Day, a global campaign to repeal laws that deny women the right to reproductive health care. The message is simple: no woman anywhere should have to tolerate restrictions that too often lead to injury or death.

NEW YORK – Last month in Buenos Aires, Elizabeth, a 34-year-old mother of two, died after inserting parsley into her cervix in a desperate attempt to induce an abortion. Days earlier, Argentina’s Senate had narrowly defeated legislation that would have legalized abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. If that bill had passed, Elizabeth might be alive today. Instead, she is a grim statistic: one of more than 40 Argentinian women who will die this year from botched abortions.

On September 28, activists around the world will mark International Safe Abortion Day, an opportunity to mourn those who have died because of oppressive anti-abortion laws. But this day is also about spreading a message on behalf of Elizabeth and other women like her: Abortion, while in many countries a political wedge issue, is simply a fact of life.

Each year, 25% of all pregnancies – about 56 million – are terminated. Abortions occur in every country and within every socioeconomic class. In the United States, 61% of abortion patients are in their 20s, 59% are already mothers, and nearly two-thirds identify with an organized religion. But abortion is most common in developing countries, where access to family-planning services is often limited. In fact, a staggering 88% of the world’s abortions occur in the Global South.

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