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Ask Dr.Deep, Going Deeper, Weird & Wonderful Is Abortion a Problem in Myanmar?

In recent years, more and more stories have shined a light on the problem of unsafe abortions in Myanmar. Although in the majority of cases, terminating a pregnancy is against the law here, it continues to persist as a problem.

So, what are unsafe abortions, and why would people literally risk their lives to get rid of a pregnancy? What can be done to prevent so many unsafe abortions from happening?

An unsafe abortion is when a person attempts to end a pregnancy without the medical training to perform this type of procedure, or when this procedure is done under risky circumstances, or both. This is very different from a safe abortion, which is performed in the proper environment, with the proper medical standards, and by medical professionals with the necessary skills.

In other countries where abortion is legal, or in Myanmar under the few conditions that an abortion is allowed, there are two ways to safely end a pregnancy. The first is called a medical abortion, where medicine is taken in a very specific dosage and timeframe to end a pregnancy. The other method is called a surgical abortion, when a short surgical procedure is done to empty the womb.

Women, including adolescents, having unwanted pregnancies often resort to unsafe abortion when they cannot access safe abortion. There are many reasons that someone might feel an abortion is necessary, and not all are irresponsible. It can be that a pregnancy is a health risk to a woman, or that there is something wrong with the fetus which would lower the baby’s quality of life. An abortion could also be wanted because a couple or woman cannot afford to support another child, or because a woman is worried about bringing a child into an unsafe or violent home, or because the pregnancy was a result of rape. In places like Myanmar, where premarital sex is taboo, a couple or woman might seek an abortion because the pregnancy was unintended, or because they feel that having a child outside of marriage would bring shame to themselves or their family. It could also be that a woman or couple doesn’t feel ready for a child, or that a couple’s contraception simply failed. Some married couples seek an abortion because they feel they have enough children, or they want more time before having another child. In most cases, the decision to seek an abortion is motivated by more than one reason.

In Myanmar, abortion is banned unless a woman’s life is at risk, and a person who performs abortions under other circumstances faces up to 10 years in jail. National data shows that around 10% of maternal deaths are caused by abortions, although some experts believe that the percentage is much higher. Because most abortions are carried out using risky measures and by medically unqualified people, women risk killing themselves in the attempt.

One reason unintended pregnancy may be so high in Myanmar is that sex is still a very sensitive subject, and sex education isn’t widely available. National studies have shown that couples are engaging in sex before marriage, but information about how to have sex safely is not readily available. While contraception is relatively easy to access, few women know about their choices and many young or single women are embarrassed to seek contraceptives because of the social stigma.

In other countries, easier access to sex education has been shown to reduce unintended pregnancies and teen pregnancy rates. Making sure that people have accurate knowledge about sex and contraception helps people make better decisions and have safer sex. And also having a knowledge of post abortion care medicine will be benefit that there were certain medicine Meso available in Myanmar which can use for the treatment of post abortion care like miscarriages and abortions.

In fact, unsafe abortion can be prevented through good sexuality education, and through use of effective contraception. Education may not eliminate unsafe abortions, but it can dramatically reduce it and save lives as a result.

Ref: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/112321/1/WHO_RHR_14.09_eng.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2709326/

http://frontiermyanmar.net/en/deadly-secret-the-illegal-abortions-killing-myanmars-women

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