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The Global Picture

By Robert Colquhoun, Director of International Campaigns, 40 days for Life

Every year there are 73 million abortions worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that 25 million abortions are unsafe. Accurate worldwide abortion statistics are difficult to obtain because many countries do not record or report annual abortion totals. Unsafe abortions are predominantly happening in the developing world. The legality of abortion can be accessed through this interactive map. 64% of the world’s abortions happen in Asia and 60% of the world’s population lives in Asia. It has been reported that China has 23 million abortions a year. The United States has just 2% of the world’s abortions every year.

In 2018, Marie Stopes International (now MSI choices) operated in 37 countries and provided 4.8 million abortion and post abortion care services (PAC). The strong majority of abortions are provided by the sale of medical abortion products, Mifepristone and Misoprostol to pharmacies. Marie Stopes provide one abortion in every eleven and in 31 developing countries, one abortion in every five. 90% of MSI choices abortion services are medical rather than surgical, and 90% are provided by surgeries. Only one in five abortion services by MSI choices are provided in a healthcare facility.

Out of clinic abortion services are illegal in most of the countries in which MSI choices operates. The purchase of an abortion pill from a pharmacy is illegal in countries with more restrictive abortion laws. MSI choices provided 2.3 million abortion services in India in 2018. As out of clinic services are illegal in India, it is clear that these abortion services are illegal – representing 40% of MSI choices abortion services worldwide as illegal.

Marie Stopes is supported by the British Government, from the Department for International Development (DFID), who granted £48,173,000 in 2018. So in essence, the British taxpayer is involved in helping to fund overseas abortions, often against the laws of the countries in which MSI choices operates. DFID previously committed over £1 billion towards funding abortions and contraceptives in African countries.

In Uganda, it has been reported that it was routine to turn up the radio in the operating room so those awaiting their turn could not hear the screaming and crying before the illegally aborted babies were flushed into a pit or latrine or even into open sewage. Desire Kirabo, a former MSI clinic staffer testified about how illegal abortions were dumped in open sewers, concealing the practice from USAID.

There is a huge gulf and disparity in the minds of Westerners between the mental image of abortion provision in developing countries, to the reality of illegally provided, self administered abortion services. Abortion provision in Africa deserves significant scrutiny.

The documentary Strings Attached (available on Amazon Prime) helps to unearth the truth about Western donors’ abortion gifts and the terms and conditions they come with. It is time for change because women and children deserve better than the status quo.

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