Abortions in Asia

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Overview

Compared to other Continents, Asia is the largest and the most populous continent, and because of its geographical differences, it is divided into four regions: Eastern Asia, South-Central Asia, South-Eastern Asia and Western Asia.


Abortion Legality in Asia

Countries are categorized based on the reasons for which abortions are legally permitted. Those reasons include saving a woman’s life, preserving a women’s physical health, preserving a woman’s mental health, rapes incidents, foetal impairment, socioeconomic constrains and mother's choice. [1]

  1. Countries that allow abortions to save a woman’s life include Iraq, Sri Lanka, Iran, Afghanistan, Philippines, Yemen, Bangladesh, Brunei, Darussalam, Myanmar, Timor-Leste. Oman and Lebanon.
  2. Countries that allow abortions to save a woman’s life and preserve a women’s physical health include Maldives ad Lao People’s Dem Republic.
  3. Countries that allow abortions to save a woman’s life and preserve a women’s physical and mental health include Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, and Malaysia.
  4. Country that allows abortions to save a woman’s life and after rape incidents is Indonesia.
  5. Countries that allow abortions due to socioeconomic constrains and other reasons (saving a mother's life and preserving a women’s physical and mental health)include Japan and India.
  6. Countries that allow abortions because of foetal impairments and other reasons (saving a mother's life and preserving a women’s physical and mental health)i includes Republic of Korea, Thailand, and some countries in Western Asia, such as Israel.
  7. Countries with legalized abortions are numerous, such as China, South Korea, Turkey and Cambodia.

Most countries in Eastern Asia have legalized abortion while abortions are restricted in other three regions, especially in South-Eastern Asia

Anti-Abortion Forces in Asia

The greatest driving force opposing abortion in Asia is religion. Many religions, including Hinduism, Muslim and Christianity, view abortion as illegal and wrong. [2] For example, Muslim believers view abortion as wrong and haram, so no abortion is accepted with only one exception: abortion is allowed only when the life of a mother is threatened. [3]Thus, most Muslim countries, including Afghanistan, restrict abortion . Another driving force is governmental regulation. For example, Philippines government criminalized abortion in 1930. Physicians and midwives who help women (with no risk of death) are punished with two to six year imprisonment. [4]

Abortion Facts in Asia

Abortions in Asia was estimated to be 25.9 million in 2003 and had increased to 27.3 million in 2008. In 2008, the abortion rate for eastern Asia is 28 per 1,000 women of ages between 15 and 44; the abortion rate for South Central Asia is 26 per 1,000 women of ages between 15 and 44; the abortion rate for South-Eastern Asia is 36 per 1,000 women of ages between 15 and 44; and the abortion rate for Western Asia is 26 per 1,000 women of ages between 15 and 44. [5]

Unsafe Abortions

In 2008, around 10.8 million unsafe abortions occurred in Asia. Statistics from World Health Organization shows that most of the unsafe abortions were from South-Central Asia, South-Eastern Asia and Western Asia. The unsafe abortion rate was the highest in South-Eastern Asia and the lowest in Eastern Asia. For example, the unsafe abortion rate in 2008 for South-Eastern Asia was 26 per 1,000 women of ages between 15 and 44. [6]

Reasons and consequences of unsafe abortions

The reason for unsafe abortions for countries with legalized abortion are expensive abortion procedures and unhygienic environments. These two reasons are the leading cause of unsafe abortions in India.[7] In countries with abortion restrictions, mothers had to seek unofficial doctors who are willing to perform abortions. [8]

Unsafe abortions can lead to death, temporary disabilities and permanent disabilities in women. Women who have had unsafe abortions can suffer from incomplete abortion, infection, brisk bleeding septic shock, perforation of internal organs, inflammation of the peritoneum, acute renal failure, and death [9][10]

A Special Type of Abortion Occurred in Asia

Sex-Selective Abortion of Female Fetuses

Sex-selective abortion of female fetuses is a special type of abortion found in Asian countries which legalizes abortions. This abortion terminates a pregnancy based on the predicted sex of an infant, and this often happens after the prenatal sex determination from an ultrasound screening. This abortion affects the human sex ratio at birth (the proportion of male infants over female infants in a population) through increasing the number of male infants and increasing female infant moralities.[11] This is commonly found in patriarchal countries, especially in China and India [12]. Take China as an example, China is a patriarchal country, and people in China think that having a son is essential to continue the bloodline of the family. Due the introduction of one-child policy, many mothers terminated their pregnancies upon realizing the sexes of their unborn infants[13] [14][15]

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