The alarm and the alternative

A tragedy that demands urgent and practicable solutions

“It is necessary to find new and practicable solutions”: the Instituto de Politica Familiar (IPF) seated in Spain, with offices across European and South-American countries, reiterated the cry of alarm on abortion. “National policies are outdated, and while abortions cause an increasing number of victims, women are often left to face pregnancies alone”. During the March 2 presentation of the report on “Abortion in Europe and in Spain in 2010” in Brussels IPF pointed out: “We must activate prevention measures stepping up social aids, notably economic assistance, to pregnant women. Formation and information measures entailing alternatives to abortion must be undertaken”.The figures of the tragedy. The Institute presents figures relating to pregnancy interruption in Europe (27 EU countries plus Albania, Andorra, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Iceland, Montenegro, Macedonia, Moldavia, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine). Figures show that 2 million 863 thousand abortions were practised in 2008, “amounting to almost 8 thousand abortions per day”. The total figure, to give a comparison, corresponds to the population of Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta. Over 1 million 200 thousand abortions were practised in EU27. The number of pregnancy interruptions corresponds to the “demographic deficit” yearly registered in Europe, marked by increasing numbers of ‘empty cribs’ and worsening population-ageing trends. The figures “are all the more worrying” if we consider that over 20 million abortion were carried out over the past 15 years” (1994-2008). Also in this case IPF wishes to make things simpler: “It’s as if entire populations of two large countries like Romania and The Netherlands suddenly disappeared”.Everyone’s problem. Focussing on the reality of the EU, the Spanish institution denounces: “one on five pregnancies end with an abortion”. In fact, in 2008 there were 6.5 million pregnancies and 5.3 million births. In the same year one abortion out of 7 (14,2%) involved young women below 20. “The United Kingdom is the country with the highest rates of abortions among adolescents and young women” (47 thousand in one year), followed by France (31thousand), Spain (14thousand), Romania (14thousand) and Germany (13thousand). “Also to the light of these facts it must be pointed out that abortion has become one of the primary causes of death in Europe, and among the major causes for low birth-rates and population ageing”. IPF thus wishes to show that the tragedy of abortion is a “lost life”, with “tragic consequences on women”, but it is also a demographic and social problem that involves everyone.The case of Spain. IPF has been monitoring Europe’s situation for years, especially as relates to demography (births, deaths, age, migration flows) and family dynamics (marriages, separations, divorce). Analysing figures already known, IPF points out the number of abortion per country in EU27. Notably, “United Kingdom, France, Romania, Italy and Spain are the States with the highest numbers of pregnancy interruptions”. Figures range from 216 thousand in the UK, to 210 thousand in France, 128 thousand in Romania, 121 thousand in Italy, followed by Spain (116 thousand) and Germany (114thousand). “In the decade 1998-2008 the highest percentage growth was registered in Spain”: the entire IPF file highlights the reality of Spain, where demonstrations are due to be held on Sunday March 7 across the Country to protest against the law recently passed by the Senate which liberalizes abortion and makes it lawful for 16-year-olds without parental consensus. Some proposals. The survey conducted by the Instituto de Politica Familiar presents other relevant chapters, one of which focuses on Spain’s legislation. Another chapter refers to an analysis of legislation enforced in Old Continent States. Accordingly, abortion is illegal in two countries (Ireland and Malta), it is provided for but undergoing restrictions in 14 states (including Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands), and unrestricted in 11 countries (including Greece, Austria, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia). In the final part of the document IPF makes a series of proposals to national bodies to address the tragedy of abortion, mostly consisting in measures aimed at “guaranteeing the rights of the child in the prenatal period”, granting support to pregnant women, organizing services and help for young families in difficulty, carrying our “conscience-awareness campaigns on the personal and social value of birth, pregnancy and maternity”.

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