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Anti-Abortion Laws In Other Countries Greatly Affect Mothers

by Crystal Lewis

Ever since Donald Trump became president, some women have been more concerned about their reproductive freedom. As state legislators and Vice President Mike Pence attempt to make getting an abortion as difficult as possible for women in the United States, it's important to look at how anti-abortion laws affect women in other countries. Here's how anti-abortion laws in other countries affect women and mothers.

Women's reproductive freedoms are being threatened in various ways across the United States. In Arkansas, a bill passed that requires doctors to check a woman's medical records to prevent sex-selective abortions. In a Iowa, a bill is being considered that would allow parents of unmarried women (regardless of whether the woman is a legal adult) to sue a doctor who performs an abortion on their daughter.

Abortion is completely illegal in several countries around the world: mostly in Latin America, Business Insider reported. El Salvador, Malta, Chile, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua all ban abortion with no exceptions for cases of rape, incest, or if the woman's life is in danger.

But it isn't only developing countries that have strict abortion laws: Northern Ireland has the most restrictive laws in the west, prohibiting abortion except if the pregnancy is a threat to a woman's life or if she is a suicide risk. Some Northern Irish women will even travel to England in order to receive an abortion.

Unsurprisingly, the abortion rate is higher in countries where abortion is prohibited than in countries that allow it. In countries with strict anti-abortion laws, 37 out of every 1,000 women has had an abortion, compared to 34 out of every 1,000 women in countries with more open abortion laws, a study from The Lancet revealed. So all restricting abortions does is lead to more abortions.

And unfortunately, many of the abortions women in developing nations are receiving are unsafe: studies say more than half of the abortions performed in these countries are unsafe. A 2006 study published in The Lancet reported that five million women around the world are admitted to the hospital for treatment of complications from unsafe abortions. The Center for Reproductive Rights found that in the Dominican Republic, 90,000 unsafe abortions occur each year, while in El Salvador, 11 percent of abortions performed over five years resulted in the woman dying.

That rate is made scarier by the fact that the women who die from an abortion are likely leaving children behind. In England, over half of women who had an abortion were mothers to other children. Same in the United States.

Access to contraceptives and fair abortion laws allow women to have fewer children and improve the quality of life they can provide for the children they do have. They can have kids later in life, and get an education. They can make more money, according to the BBC.

Obviously, the United States is far off from becoming as restrictive as these countries. But it is important to know that it's possible for countries to slide backwards on reproductive freedoms: after all, abortions were actually legal in El Salvador until 1998 in cases where the mother's life was threatened, there were fetal anomalies, or if the woman was raped.

And reproductive beliefs in the United States affect women's ability to get a safe abortion around the world. Trump has reinstated the Global Gag rule, which prevents non-governmental organizations that provide or even refer to abortions while discussing family planning from receiving federal money earlier this year. So the fight for reproductive freedoms in America is about far more than American women.