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Abortion Age Decreased – Now Girls of 14 Have Abortions

February 2, 2009

68 000 Women Die from Illegal Abortions around the World

Eka Gulua

The problem of illegal abortions is still serious in the 21st century. 67 900 women died from illegal abortions in the world ever year. Illegal abortion is a problem in Georgia as well. 14-19 year old girls apply to doctors for abortions more frequently.  It is new for the country.

None of the gynecologists admit that they make abortions. However, none of them hesitates to accuse their colleagues in making illegal abortions and to call them the dishonest people that do this because of money. The Human Rights Centre interviewed one of the famous Georgian gynecologists. We do not reveal his identity under his request. He says that he had been asked to make an abortion illegally many times: “It is ridiculous that we have to talk about illegal abortions in the 21st century but this is the reality we are facing. There is no statistics regarding illegal abortions because illegal abortions are made at home and in non medial institutions. Illegal abortion is dangerous because women are being operated on in non sterile rooms where they might take up various inspections which cause various diseases. The diseases might complicate and the woman might either dies or suffer from various diseases for the rest of the life. I think the gynecologists who make illegal abortions are criminals. They are only interested in making money, nothing else. If legal abortion costs for instance 50 GEL, illegal abortions are  five times expensive. I myself have been offered many times to make abortion illegally. Another problem is that the demand on illegal abortions has increased among teenagers, in particular among girls of 14-19 years that are conceived out of wedlock. They have illegal and risky abortions because they are afraid that their family might find out about their pregnancy.”

The story of a 16-year- old girl
It took us much time to convince 16-year-old Nina to retell her story. When she realized that we would not reveal her identity she started to speak openly. She got pregnant when she was 15. The embryo was 4 months old when she had abortion. Her sad story begins when she was kidnapped. Nina was not 14 at that time.
Nina: I did not love my husband but I had to stay with him when he kidnapped me. I was afraid if I did not stay my father and brother would kill him. I lived 6 months with him. Then we split. He knew that I did not love him and I would leave him sooner or later. Therefore, he wanted me to become pregnant and deliver a child. I had not had any information about sexual life and pregnancy before getting married. The embryo was 3 months old when I found out that I was pregnant. I decided to have abortion because I was not planning to stay with my husband any longer. I found one gynecologist after long search. I had abortion for 250 GEL in the house of this gynecologist. Apparently, he was not a professional. I started bleeding. In the end I faced serious medical problems. I do not want to go into details but I am being treated up to present time. I was operated on 6 months ago.”
Our interviewee did not reveal her diagnosis. However, she said that probably she will not be able to have a baby in the future.
Illegal abortions are often caused by simple reasons, for instance, random sexual relations that end up in either legal or illegal abortion. 15-year-old Tea says that she got pregnant from her boyfriend but she had abortion illegally because she considered that she was too young to be a mum and besides she was afraid of her parents: “We still love each other but we did not want to have a baby in such an early age. The embryo was 2 months old when I found out that I was pregnant. I had no other option but to find a doctor and have abortion. I do not think that having abortion is a big problem. I think if you are not ready to raise a child it is better not to have a baby at all than to raise a bad child.”

The Experts’ Opinion
The experts consider that one of the reasons for illegal abortions and the fact that more teenagers have abortions is that youngsters have no information about contraceptives and safe sex.
Ia Verulashvili, president of Women’s Centre, the organization that focuses on the solution of women’s problems told the Human Rights Centre that abortion as a topic for conversation is tabooed in Georgia and youngsters do not study about the problem anywhere: “Unfortunately, abortion is tabooed and you can not speak about it openly. If you try to solve the problem you should start from speaking about the problem in schools. Will the Orthodox Church allow this? I doubt that but it is essential to teach a young person why she must refuse on abortion and on illegal abortion, in particular. Abortion is bad for a girl’s health. You must teach that a young girl must not get married if she has many contagious diseases that are distributed by sexual contact. She might become infertile if she suffers from one of the diseases of this kind. Unfortunately, there is no state politics in terms of teaching young people why they should not have abortions and why they should use contraceptives. There is no pregnancy planning tradition in our country and this is a big problem.”
Ia Verulashvili said that Women’s Centre established a hot line to grant people information about HIV/AIDS and other diseases. The interviewee claims that the hot line showed that the situation is very difficult: “We received many calls. People told their symptoms and asked if it were the symptoms of AIDS. We offered them to come into our office under the grounds that we could not find out if a person was ill with AIDS only with a telephone consultation. No one wanted to come to the office for the examination. Unfortunately, most of people who called were teenagers.”
Professor Archil Khomasuridze, the president of the Georgian Federation for Family Planning who is general director of the Research Institute of Human Reproduction named after Jordania also considers that the problem can be solved only by raising public awareness about negative sides of abortion. He said that there is no tradition of family planning and using contraceptive methods in Georgia: “It is necessary to teach people that abortion is bad. We must strengthen the tradition of using contraceptives and planning the family. Media outlets should support us in this regard. In 1987 we conducted epidemiological research. The research aimed at revealing the number of illegal abortions. 100 000 legal abortions were registered at that time. Our research revealed 200 000 illegal abortions- twice as much as legal abortions. Women had 5, 10, 15 and even 30 abortions without any hesitation in those years. This is because there were no contraceptives at that time. Today there is different reality. I think abortion should not be a problem nowadays. 50 % of women use contraceptives in Georgian at present.”
As for decreasing abortion age, the respondent considers that this is caused by illiteracy. He considers that our society is sexually disabled: “The age at which women have abortion has decreased. 14-year-old girls have abortions.  Abortion instances at 15 are very frequent. One of the reasons for this is that there is no education in terms of sex in Georgia at all. For instance, in Denmark sexual education starts from very young age. The education is moderate and cautious.  In our country not only women but also men do not know anything about sexual life. Our society is sexually disabled.”

46 million abortions are made in the world per year. 19 million are risky and dangerous because they are made by unqualified people in dirty and unhygienic places that fail to meet minimal medical standards.
One pregnancy out of 5 ends up in abortion in the world. One out of 10 abortions is dangerous and risky. 2 risky abortions from 5 are made to 15-year-old girls and one from 5 risky abortions to the girls of 7-20. The death rate in cases of risky abortions is as follows: worldwide – 67 900, in developed countries – 300, developing countries – 67 500. As for the age limit in cases of risky abortions developing countries:  26 % - girls of  20-24 –, 25 % - of women between 25-29, 19 % of women of 30-34, 17 % of 35-44 and 14 % of girls of 15-19.

In developing countries about one married woman from 6 faces unwanted pregnancy. They prefer not to become pregnant. However, they do not use contraceptives as well. In the countries where abortions are legal, women are more protected because abortions are made by professionals.
As for the usage of contraceptives in Georgia: the usage rate have decreased in 11,5 % in 2007 in comparison with 2005.