An unintended pregnancy is a pregnancy that is mistimed, unplanned, or unwanted at the time of conception. If a woman did not want to become pregnant at the time the pregnancy occurred, but want to become pregnant at some point in the future, the pregnancy is considered mistimed.1 If a woman did not want to become pregnant then or at anytime in the future, the pregnancy is considered unwanted.1
Every day quarter million women around the world step into the clinics looking for physicians who can help them get safe and legal abortion they desperately need.2 Unfortunately, they are often denied abortion services due to existing local abortion laws. For example, in Indonesia, abortion is only permitted in case of rape or incest or to save a woman’s life.3 Abortion is not permitted to preserve a woman’s physical and mental health, or because of fetal impairment.3. In most cases, the result of these rejections are the catastrophic unsafe abortion, a procedure meant to terminate an unintended pregnancy that is performed by individuals without the necessary skills, or in an environment that does not conform to the minimum medical standards, or both.4
Abortion laws go deeper than restricting women’s human rights, it also affects medical students’ curriculum; thus, affecting future healthcare providers.5. Medical students are not provided appropriate reproductive health training; such as abortion counseling, hands-on abortion training and post-abortion training.6 Being medically trained at World’s 4th most populated country with anti-abortion medical school curriculum gives me an incredibly clear idea how lack of access to abortion training makes it impossible for young doctors to help patients with unintended pregnancy.
As we can all see, current restrictive abortion laws only causes damage for physicians, medical students and most importantly women. I believe that I speak for all those women and rising young doctors and that it’s time for governments to improve the abortion laws and let women practice their reproductive healthcare rights, as they should. Making abortion legal and ensuring that safe abortion services are accessible to all women in need are urgent health, economic and moral imperatives. Achieving these goals would lead to enormous individual and societal benefits—for women, their families and countries as a whole.
- Finer LB, Zolna MR. Unintended Pregnancy in the United States: Incidence and Disparities. Contraception 2011;84(5):478-85.
- Sedgh G et al. Induced abortion: incidence and trends worldwide from 1995 to 2008. Lancet 2012;379(9816):625-32.
- Sedgh G and Ball H. Abortion in Indonesia – In Brief. New York: Guttmacher Institute; 2008. Report No:2.
- World Health Organization (WHO). The prevention and management of unsafe abortion: report of a technical working group, Geneva: WHO, 1992.
- Sjostrom S, Essen B, Syden F, Gemzell-Danielsson K, Klingberg-Allvin M. Medical Students’ Attitudes and Perceptions on Abortion: A Cross-Sectional Survey Among Medical Interns in Maharastra, India. Contraception 2014;90:42-46.
- Guiahi M, Maguire K, Ripp Z, Goodman R, Kenton K. Perceptions of family planning and abortion education at a faith-based medical school. Contraception 2011;84:520-24.
About the Author
Audrey Natalia is a young doctor at Cilandak Marine Hospital, South Jakarta. She received her Bachelor of Medicine degree from Pelita Harapan University, Indonesia. She’s a student leader of Medical Students for Choice (MSFC) Indonesia and a member of Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP), Asian Medical Students Association (AMSA) and Disaster Medical Assitance Team (TBM). She’s currently working on her research “Postpartum Depression in Females with Intended and Unintended Pregnancy at Tangerang: A Comparison” as a primary investigator.
Audrey Natalia currently resides in Indonesia with her family. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org