Socialist Worker

Harsh facts that show how a woman’s right to choose is still under threat

Issue No. 1933

  • In Britain from 1955 to 1957, 141 women died due to backstreet abortions.
  • Prior to 1967 around 100,000 illegal abortions were carried out each year in Britain.
  • Prior to 1967 it is estimated that 35,000 women were hospitalised each year due to botched backstreet abortions in Britain.
  • Every day 55,000 unsafe abortions take place around the world, 95 percent of them in developing countries. They cause one in eight maternal deaths.
  • One in three women has an abortion in their lifetime.
  • One in five of all pregnancies ends in abortion.
  • Almost 90 percent of abortions take place in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
  • In England nearly a quarter of women have to pay for their abortions because access to NHS abortion services is restricted.
  • The availability of NHS-funded abortions varies around Britain, leaving women facing a postcode lottery. In 2001 the figures varied from 96 percent NHS-funded in North Cumbria to 50 percent in Kingston and Richmond (Surrey).
  • The 1967 Abortion Act was never extended to Northern Ireland, so women from all parts of Ireland have to pay for their journey to Britain as well as for a private abortion, which can cause serious delays.
  • Abortion is illegal in Ireland, Portugal, Malta and Poland except in extreme circumstances.
  • Last year over 1,000 women were hospitalised after unsafe abortions.
  • In the US Bush has been systematically attacking abortion rights, and has extended this worldwide through the “global gag” rule, which prevents reproductive rights clinics from providing abortion counselling and provision by removing their funding.
  • The US Supreme Court has only a wafer thin pro-choice majority and is currently defending the legality of abortion.

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Article information

Sat 8 Jan 2005, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1933
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