70 000 Malawian women abort babies yearly

About 70,000 women have abortions in Malawi every year translating into 24 abortions for every 1000 women aged between 15 and 44.

This is according to a survey report by the Coalition for the Prevention of Unsafe Abortion (COPUA) in Malawi.

The report says about 31 000 Malawian women are treated for complications of unsafe abortion annually and that 17 percent of maternal deaths are attributable to unsafe abortion making it one of the primary causes of maternal mortality.

The report quotes study documents from the Ministry of Health like Abortion in Malawi: Results of a study of Incidence and Magnitude of Complications of Unsafe Abortion, 2010; Malawi National Statistical Office (NSO) Malawi:DHS 2010 Final Report; Benson, et al, Health
Systems Costs of Providing Post Abortion Care in Malawi , Draft Report 2012.

The report says of the 31 000 women treated for complications of unsafe abortion, 50 percent were young girls below 25 years of age while 80 percent were married women and 64 percent were rural girls and women and that only 22 percent of the women were using a contraceptive at the time of the pregnancy.

The report gives reasons for seeking abortion in Malawi. These include poverty and inability of a woman to support more children; the desire of young girls to remain in school; extra-marital pregnancy; partner insistence and parental insistence.

Women also abort after getting pregnancy from prostitution and when the pregnancy is too close to the previous pregnancy and also pregnancy that is the result of defilement, rape or incest.

Others abort to avoid being expelled from the Church or restrictions in work policies on maternity leave or restrictions in private medical insurance schemes and also when the relationship is abusive.

According to World Health Organisation unsafe abortion remains one of the leading causes of maternal mortality accounting for 47 000 of the 358 000 annual pregnancy-related deaths worldwide thus globally 13 percent of all pregnancy related deaths are due to unsafe abortions.

WHO says 6.2 million unsafe abortions occur in Africa each year and about 5.5 million of these occur in sub Saharan countries.

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