THE BLOG

Forget Pro-Life or Pro-Choice, It's Pro-Female Rights

08/04/2014 15:18 BST | Updated 07/06/2014 10:59 BST

The issue of abortion is complicated. Science and morality collide to form a pseudo-scientific-ethical argument around the taking of a human life and the punishing of an unborn child. For decades the two sides have argued with little hope of finding a common ground. However, whether it is pro-life or pro-choice, there appears to be one factor consistently missing from the argument - pro-female rights.

Almost 25 per cent of the world's women live in countries where abortion is illegal, accept when the pregnancy is a result of rape, incest or health complications, yet an estimated 222 million women in the developing world have an unmet need for modern contraception. As a result, around 22 million women worldwide have unsafe abortions every year. Of those, 300,000 die from pregnancy-related complications or unsafe abortions every year.

This is a major human rights issue. It has been recognised over the past 20 years by international human rights bodies and experts, who have highlighted women's human rights to life and health when calling on countries to end unsafe abortion - yet the problem still exists.

A recent report by IPAS, a global non-governmental organisation dedicated to ending preventable

deaths and disabilities from unsafe abortions, found that deaths and injuries due to unsafe abortion, as well as prosecution for seeking illegal abortion, disproportionately affect women who are young, poor, rural and lack education, as well as those who belong to a racial or ethnic minority. The report stressed that "ensuring abortion is legal and safe is central to achieving social justice and gender equality globally."

More than one in four women in developing countries still have no access to modern contraception and the amount of illegal abortions has reached alarming levels. Furthermore, a report by Doctors of the World has found that almost half of abortions globally take place in 'deplorable conditions.' World leaders are currently working on a global development framework for 2015 and it's crucial that women's human rights play a part in these plans.

However, a recent poll conducted for CNN by ORC International found that 38% of Americans surveyed believe that abortion should only be legal in a few circumstances - the result of rape or incest - and a further 20% say abortion should always be illegal. Essentially, 58% of those surveyed believe abortion should be made predominantly illegal in the United States. America positions itself at the forefront of global progression and human rights - something is wrong.

In much of the western world we have the luxury of choice, whether you agree with the actions that follow that choice or not, it is the option that is important. The lack of choice, the continued subjugation of the rights of women and the subsequent death or injury that still affects so many, is a big problem and we should not ignore it.

If we shout loudly, someone might listen. Sign the Doctors of the World 'Names Not Numbers' petition and give voice to the world's women who have no choice.