Engage in a public campaign explaining that abortion is legal
Stabroek News
March 1, 2002

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Dear Editor,

It was a pleasant surprise to hear an open discussion on abortion on radio Wednesday evening, February 27. I hope we have many more. It was also a disappointment to learn that unsafe abortion is still so widespread, seven years after we made abortion legal. There is no need for this. Properly done, an abortion in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy is 11 20 times safer than birth at term.

The proof that abortion is a very safe procedure lies in the reality that only poor women suffer from complications. These are complications from unsafe abortion. The problem is one of social justice, not one of technical difficulty.

I would like to suggest five steps to end unsafe abortions here and to empty the wards that are still filled with women who suffer unnecessarily.

First, engage in a public campaign so all women learn that abortion is now legal.

Second, provide all nurses in public health clinics with pregnancy tests and a list of doctors and agencies who are known to provide high quality counselling and technical services.

Third, educate pharmacists about the proper use of Cytotec. Most of the women admitted to Georgetown Hospital for complications of abortion report using Cytotec. The drug can by used perfectly safely to induce abortions. But, like anything that is misused, it can be harmful.

Fourth, improve the quality, safety and choice of services available to women by training doctors in vacuum aspiration using soft plastic instruments. This procedure removes the need for the old D&C and the reliance on general anaesthesia. The general anaesthesia creates more risk for the patient than the abortion procedure.

Fifth, improve access greatly by providing abortion services in our public hospitals. This service would greatly reduce the costs currently spent on caring for women with complications. The hospitals would save money.

I look forward to more informed discussions.

Yours faithfully,

Padmini Mohabir