In India, Unsafe Abortions Claim a Woman Every Two Hours

World

On World Population Day, the first part of TIME’s focus on India — the country with the highest concentration of young people in the world — looked at sex education. This second part examines what happens when the desperate need for contraceptives goes unmet.

Each year, 19 million to 20 million women risk their lives to undergo unsafe abortions, conducted in unsanitary conditions by unqualified practitioners or practitioners who resort to traditional but rudimentary means. Dr. Gilda Sedgh of the Guttmacher Institute, a U.S. sexual-and-reproductive-health-and-advocacy center, believes that “about half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe” — an appalling number when one considers that abortions are simple procedures when done correctly. In India, the problem of unsafe abortions is especially acute. There were 620,472 reported abortions in 2012; experts say the true number of abortions performed in the country could be as high as 7 million, with…

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