Additional Contraceptive Services Needed to Reduce Unsafe Abortions in Colombia

A new report released by the Guttmacher Institute and Fundación Oriéntame assesses that the number of induced abortions in Colombia rose between 1989 and 2008. Despite this, the country’s abortion rate rose only minimally; indicating a rise in the number of reproductive aged women as the reason for growth. Unintended Pregnancy and Induced Abortion in Colombia: Causes and Consequences, points to the criminal nature of abortions by the Colombian government as the major source of complications and health risks to women.

In a country where 30% of pregnancies result in abortion, 132,000 women necessitated medical attention as a consequence of complications from an abortion. Says Cristina Villareal, a coauthor of the report and Director of Fundación Oriéntame, “The study’s findings make clear the need to remove institutional and bureaucratic obstacles for women seeking a legal procedure and ensure that health facilities with the capacity and mandate to provide safe and legal procedures do so.”

With the exception of a law allowing abortion under rare, specific circumstances, 99.9% of the procedures are unlawful. Consequently, adds Villareal, “six out of 10 health facilities in Colombia that have the capacity to provide post abortion care do not provide it, and about nine out of every 10 of these facilities do not offer legal abortion services.”

And while the previous two decades have seen a trend in smaller families, unplanned births still grew by a third in 1990 and over 50% in 2010. The consequence of these unplanned pregnancies can be characterized by economic status: women in metropolitan and/or wealthier areas had a 25% complication rate, while women in poorer had a 50% risk.

Elena Prada, an author of the report at the Guttmacher Institute, concluded, “We must bear in mind that unintended pregnancy is the reason for the vast majority of abortions… Improved family planning services and increased use of contraception are key in reducing unintended pregnancies, and thus abortions, in Colombia.”

LEARN more about the report in English here and Spanish here.

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