PREGNANCY – 121 million. This is the number of unconsciously chosen pregnancies in the world every year. That’s nearly 331,000 a day. “An extremely high number” for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which prompted it to focus its annual report on unwanted pregnancies.
“This number reminds us of the number, particularly of women and girls, who are unable to fully exercise their fundamental rights,” highlights the report, entitled “Understanding the imperceptible”, published this Wednesday, March 30.
The United Nations Population Fund defines an unwanted pregnancy as “a premature pregnancy that occurs earlier than desired or when the woman did not plan to have (more) children”. This can be both intentional and unintentional. “Some unwanted pregnancies are welcomed as a happy event, while others end in abortion,” the report said.
A right that is not a right
While the fundamental right to decide whether or not to have children is enshrined in several international agreements, the report highlights that the decision to have a child is not really a decision. “Only 57% of women are able to enforce their decisions related to their health and their sexual and reproductive rights,” explains UNFPA.
The report points out that “all women, and some who do not identify themselves as such, are likely to face an unwanted pregnancy at some point in their lives.” Unwanted pregnancies can occur whether you are in a relationship or not. “No contraception is 100% effective,” the report reminds.
Several factors contribute to these unwanted pregnancies: poverty, low employment and education rates, and violence and coercion.
60% of unwanted pregnancies end in abortion
Overall, more than 60% of unwanted pregnancies end in abortion, according to the United Nations Population Fund. For many women, an abortion is the only possible solution, as pregnancy can lead to job loss, forced marriage or impoverishment. However, 45% of these voluntary abortions are not medicalised. It is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality worldwide.
The report also recalls that “more than 257 million women worldwide are not using safe and effective methods of birth control”. Among the reasons given, we find in particular the concern about possible side effects or the argument that sexual intercourse is too infrequent. Prevention is also still a topic of “a large number of myths as well as massive misinformation”. “Many women struggle to obtain contraceptives that are appropriate for their bodies and circumstances,” or face reproductive coercion, the report adds.
To reduce unwanted pregnancies, UNFPA calls for “priority to physical autonomy,” strengthening health and education systems, and ensuring affordable and accessible contraception for all.
See also on The HuffPost: “Choosing to be a mother, a fundamental but hidden theme told in this book”