Family planning and abortion: keys to reducing maternal mortality

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  • Access to family planning and safe abortion services will reduce maternal mortality rates (MMR) worldwide.

Study design

  • A review and commentary on the use of family planning and abortion services to reduce the MMR.
  • Funding: Source of funding not disclosed.

Key results

  • Women at extremes of age are at increased risk for maternal mortality.
  • High parity is associated with a higher MMR, but there are several confounders including age, socioeconomic status and education, smoking, and alcohol use.
  • Studies on birth spacing are mixed; close births increase risk for nutritional deficiencies and anemia.
  • Contraceptive services may fail and abortion services are important in preventing increased MMR. According to a World Health Organization systemic analysis, unsafe abortions attributed to 7.9% of maternal deaths between 2003 and 2009. Access to safe and legal abortion can reduce this risk.
  • Approximately 7 million women in developing countries are treated for complications from unsafe abortions annually.

Why this matters

  • Access to family planning and abortion services are key to preventing pregnancy in high risk women and to ultimately decrease high MMRs.
  • Access to family planning and safe abortion services is also a reflection upon how we view women and ensuring they have access to evidence based care that protects their health and human rights.