If you want to reduce the number of abortions there is much that you as an indivdual, and as a group can do. One of the seemingly obvious, but overlooked ways is to improve maternity care for pregnant women in your own locale, and assist others in improving it elsewhere.
Women are much less inclined to carry a pregnancy to term if they or their baby are likely to die in childbirth because of dangerous conditions where they are to give birth. Many poor women consider abortion if they cannot afford the cost of maternity care.
From Great Britain:
An independent report has highlighted a huge variation in the quality of maternity care across England.
Trusts in London came out particularly badly, something that Sam Brown experienced firsthand when she gave birth to her first child.
She had been due to go into the midwife unit at her local hospital in East London but when she went into labour, staff shortages meant she ended up on the main labour ward.
She was then left to her own devices.
Feeling the need to push, Sam sent her fiancé, Adam, to fetch a midwife.
"I will never forget this. She said: 'You're in a dream world girl, it's your first child, it's going to be hours'.
"They didn't talk to me like I was a real person, the fact I wanted help was a real inconvenience to them."
A passing cleaner had to tell her how to use the gas and air and the entire hospital was "filthy", she says.
After about 40 minutes of being left in agony and "absolutely terrified", Adam called for another midwife who had just come on shift.
It was then discovered the baby's heart rate had started to drop and the consultant was called.
He said she should have been pushing, as she had thought.
She was put on a drip to hasten labour and baby Zack was born shortly after.
"It was really frightening and I started to doubt my own body.
"It was very hard for Adam and afterwards he said he was really scared for me."
In Chad, the likelihood of a woman dying during childbirth is one in 11, a fact recently highlighted by the Panorama programme.
Mali's minister of health, Traore Fatoumata Nafo, says that in the west only one woman in 1,800 dies in childbirth. In Africa that ratio is one in 16, by far the highest in the world.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that about 250,000 mothers die every year in Africa as a result of complications due to pregnancy and childbirth.
The lifetime risk of a woman dying in pregnancy or childbirth in West Africa is 1 in 12.
"The United States has not reached an irreducible minimum in maternal mortality; WHO estimates demonstrate that 20 countries have reduced maternal mortality levels to below those of the United States (5). Primary prevention of maternal deaths, such as those associated with ectopic pregnancy and some cases of infection and hemorrhage, is possible. However, some complications that can occur during pregnancy cannot be prevented (e.g., pregnancy-induced hypertension, placenta previa, retained placenta, and thromboembolism). Nevertheless, more than half of all maternal deaths can be prevented through early diagnosis and appropriate medical care of pregnancy complications (6,7). Hemorrhage, pregnancy-induced hypertension, infection, and ectopic pregnancy continue to account for most (59%) maternal deaths."
"When compared with white women, black women continue to have
times the risk for dying from complications of pregnancy and
(2), although the risk for developing maternal complications is
twice that of white women (8). This suggests that access to and use
health-care services for early diagnosis and effective treatment,
complications develop, may be a factor. In 1996, if the maternal
ratio for black women were equal to that for white women, the
maternal mortality ratio would have declined by 32% from 7.6 to 5.1
100,000 live births."
"In 1998, the World Health Organization designated Safe Motherhood as the focus for World Health Day (April 7), indicating the importance of this issue globally. In the United States, several measures that need to be implemented include providing all women with access to family planning services, because unintended pregnancies are associated with higher risks for both mother and infant (9). Women should know how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and women with STDs need effective and early treatment to prevent ectopic pregnancies. All women need access to culturally appropriate and quality prenatal, delivery, and postpartum care. The prevention of complications and the early diagnosis and effective treatment of any complication is critical. Although prenatal-care use in the United States has been increasing, in 1996, approximately 10% of all pregnant women received inadequate or no prenatal care (10)."
"In the United States, the theme for World Health Day 1998 was "Invest in the Future: Support Safe Motherhood." The proposed Healthy People 2010 goal for maternal mortality remains 3.3 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Unless investments are made in improving maternal health for all women, this goal will not be reached."
What You Can Do
From the online Article "Dead Mums Don't Cry," about why the TV show Panorama decided to focus on the issue of maternal mortality in Africa.
"They are about the female side of the MDGs - empowering women, primary education (more girls in school), maternal and infant mortality, and maybe too about reproductive health (to some the missing MDG). The message from Kevin Watkins - who's monitoring the MDGs for the UN's Human Development Report - is that women and children are coming last."
That's the answer, women and children need to come first, not last. Reducing the incidence of abortion by reasonable and compassionate prevention is putting women and children first. There a thousand ways to do it, and everyone on earth can take part in making the changes that will bring it about. What are you doing? What are you going to do? When?