By Selzer and Soguel
Saturday, October 13, 2007
The most comprehensive study of international abortion rates to date linked the availability of reproductive health and family planning services to a drop in abortion between 1995 and 2003. Research conducted by the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute also reveals that abortion rates in North America were stagnant during the study period, dropping from 22 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age to 21 per 1,000, coinciding with an intensified political effort to ban abortions in the United States.
Abortion rates dropped where contraceptive use is up, illustrated by the sharp declines recorded in Eastern Europe during the study period, Guttmacher noted. Abortion rates there were cut in half following the fall of the Iron Curtain. Prior to that, abortion was the primary method of birth control and others were largely unavailable to women.
"It's clear to me then that if anti-choice forces really wanted fewer abortions in the U.S., they should be dedicated to keeping it legal," wrote RH Reality Check columnist Rachel Larris Oct. 12. "Western Europe has a ratio of 12 abortions per 1,000 women whereas in North America (which includes Canada) the ratio is 21 per 1,000. Meanwhile in places where the procedure isn't lawfully permitted, the 39 unsafe abortions per 1,000 women (in Eastern Africa) and 33 per 1,000 (in South America) testify to the fact that many women will break the law to end a pregnancy."
The research study has been criticized by anti-choice groups as flawed. In 2003, an estimated 41.6 million abortions were performed worldwide.
Guttmacher Institute, Facts on Induced Abortion Worldwide:
Dr. Suki Falconberg, Letter to Ken Burns:
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Two U.S. soldiers have been accused by the Colombian government of raping a 12-year-old girl on a military base, El Tiempo reported Oct. 8. Michael J. Coen and Cesar Ruiz are accused of dropping the victim off in a park after raping her in an apartment. The soldiers are part of Plan Colombia, the U.S. funded drug eradication effort that started in 2000.
In Iraq, two women were killed in a car by foreign convoy escorts as they were traveling through central Baghdad. A Dubai-based private security firm took responsibility for the incident.
In Zimbabwe, the peaceful activist group Women of Zimbabwe Arise has issued a report documenting the torture and sexual abuse of female protesters who oppose the regime of Robert Mugabe. The group says that 40 percent of its members have suffered physical torture while detained by security forces; others were stripped of their clothing and held beyond 48-hour legal limits.
The United Nations reported Oct. 11 that in North Kivu, an eastern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the number of rapes increased 60 percent during the month of September. Over 2,000 cases have been reported in the province since January. Widespread sexual torture of women by armed militants has become an epidemic during the Congo conflict; in response, women's groups have launched hunger strikes.
The sexual assault against women continues unchecked in conflict zones around the world and persists through time. An open letter to documentarian Ken Burns circulating on the Internet poignantly asks why he neglected to include the sexual enslavement of women during World War II and U.S. military complicity in his opus work, "The War," airing on PBS stations. "I was raped and prostituted by the U.S. military," Suki Falconberg wrote in an open letter posted on several blogs. "Why don't you tell my story, Mr. Burns? It is far more 'colorful' than that of these soldiers who raped their way through Europe and Asia."
These items were compiled from mutiple press reports and press releases by Sarah Seltzer, a New York-based freelance writer and the editorial intern at Women's eNews, and Dominique Soguel, the Arabic editor for Women's eNews.
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