SEEING THE UNSEEN: THE CASE FOR ACTION IN THE NEGLECTED CRISIS OF UNINTENDED PREGNANCY

Recently, the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) flagship State of World Population Report 2022 titled “Seeing the Unseen: The case for action in the neglected crisis of unintended pregnancy” was launched.

Key Findings of the Report

  • Between 2015 and 2019, there were roughly 121 million unintended pregnancies globally each year.
  • Globally, an estimated 257 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using safe, modern methods of contraception.
  • Nearly a quarter of all women are not able to say no to sex.
  • Contraceptive use is 53% lower among women who have experienced intimate partner violence.
  • Rape-related pregnancies are equally or more likely to occur than pregnancies from consensual sex.
  • Over 60% of unintended pregnancies, and almost 30% of all pregnancies, end in abortion.
  • 45% of all abortions performed globally are unsafe.
  • In developing countries, unsafe abortions cost an estimated USD 553 million per year in treatment costs alone.
  • In humanitarian emergencies, such as the ongoing war in Ukraine, many women lose access to contraception and / or experience sexual violence.
  • Some studies have shown that over 20% of refugee women and girls will face sexual violence.
  • In the first 12 months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the estimated disruption in contraceptive supplies and services lasted an average of 3.6 months, leading to as many as 1.4 million unintended pregnancies.

Contributing Factors of Unintended Pregnancies

  1. Lack of sexual and reproductive health care and information
  2. Contraceptive options that don’t suit women’s bodies or circumstances
  3. Harmful norms and stigma surrounding women controlling their own fertility and bodies
  4. Sexual violence and reproductive coercion
  5. Judgmental attitudes or shaming in health services
  6. Poverty and stalled economic development
  7. Gender inequality

Impact:

  • Children born as a result of an unplanned pregnancy may be more likely to fare worse in school achievement, social and emotional development, and later success in the labor market compared to children born as a result of a planned pregnancy.
  • Unintended pregnancy may also be an important risk factor in predicting and understanding child maltreatment.
  • An unplanned pregnancy can also disrupt educational goals and severely affect future earning potential and family financial well-being—costs which extend to state budgets.

Suggestions

  • Decision-makers and health systems need to prioritize the prevention of unintended pregnancies by improving the accessibility, acceptability, quality and variety of contraception and greatly expanding quality sexual and reproductive health care and information.
  • Policy makers, community leaders and all individuals should empower women and girls to make affirmative decisions about sex, contraception and motherhood.
  • Foster societies that recognize the full worth of women and girls.
  • If they do, women and girls will be able to contribute fully to society, and will have the tools, information and power to make this fundamental choice—to have children, or not—for themselves.

SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT

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