The World Health Organization said that the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States to restrict the abortion right will increase maternal mortality.
WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that all women should be able to choose about their body and their health; he defended that safe abortion is part of health care and that restricting it pushes women and girls towards unsafe abortions, which cause complications and even deaths.
Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist, said the UN health agency’s position is based on decades of data from numerous countries. “I know from my own experience, working in India, that having access to safe abortion is a life-saving measure,” she explained, adding that denying a woman an abortion is “like denying someone life-saving medicine.”
She stated that the abortion ban would not contribute to reducing the number of procedures, but rather would cause women to undergo unsafe abortions. “What these bans do is put women in the hands of people who are there to exploit the situation, performing unsafe abortions and, very often, causing enormous damage to their health and sometimes death, because it’s very easy to get an infection, develop sepsis and die,” Swaminathan said.
The specialist insisted that abortions are part of medical care for women. “In many countries, a large percentage of maternal mortality can be attributed to unsafe abortions,” she added.
The world health agency is concerned about the global impact of the decision. “A lot of countries don’t really understand the implications and they may go down the same path because there are a lot of activists against women’s rights and women having a choice,” she explained.
“We have a lot of data about it. We are not talking about something hypothetical, we are talking about something documented and irrefutable. Women’s lives are put at risk, ” added Tedros.
During the press conference, Tedros also said that he will reconvene the Emergency Committee given the evolution of monkeypox infections, although he did not specify when the meeting will take place.