One out of five Brazilian women below 40 (22%) has undergone at least one abortion, according to a survey at national level by the University of Brasilia. If all the female population of the country is considered the rate drops to one in seven, 15%.
The survey also shows that contrary to what could be expected the interruption of pregnancy is not restricted to single adolescents or older women.
Almost 60% of the 2.000 interviews admitted to an interrupted pregnancy at the prime reproductive age between 18 and 29 year-olds.
“Most are married women, church going with children and low levels of education” said anthropologist Debora Dinz from the University of Brasilia Bioethics, Human Rights and Gender Department, and the team leader of the study which was released over the weekend.
“Most of the women that have undergone an abortion have the experience of maternity and the conviction that they can’t have another child at the moment in which the pregnancy is interrupted, in spite of the risks involved”, said Ms Dinz.
Abortive medicines were used in approximately half of the cases interviewed and it is “most probable that the other half had the interruption performed in precarious sanitary and health conditions”.
Apparently “55% of these women had to be hospitalized because of complications”, said anthropologist Ms Dinz.
“Most of these hospitalizations could have been avoided if pregnancy interruption was not a clandestine activity and access to safe abortion medicines was ensured”, she added.
Abortion is considered a crime in Brazil and is punished. Only under judicial authorization and involving cases of sexual violence, mother’s illness of malformation of the foetus is the practice allowed.