Surgery for Family Planning, Abortion, and Postabortion Care
This chapter highlights the choices faced by women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in terms of voluntary family planning and abortion, especially as both impact maternal mortality and women’s health. Family planning methods include sterilization (of both men and women), use of IUDs, pills, and use of condoms; however, globally, at least 150 million women ages 15–49 years in a marriage or union have an unmet need for contraception. While worldwide sterilization has grown to the most common form, in LMICs, particularly in Africa, contraceptive injections and pills dominate. LMICs show high rates of induced abortions, particularly in those countries where the unmet need for family planning is high. When performed by trained practitioners, abortions are safe with minimal risk of complication and cost-effective, but legal prohibition and social/cultural norms prevent many women from access to quality health services. Because of these circumstances, comprehensive family planning offers the best method to avoid unsafe abortions.