For Vietnamese, abortion is a harder choice than it should be

15 May 2015

Thanh Nien News, 15 May 2015 -  Vietnam is having the highest abortion rate in Southeast Asia – 18 cases per 100 live births, according to figures in 2012. This is also among the highest worldwide. Sex selection, financial hardship, concern for the mother’s life, or a teenage girl not ready to be a mom -- no matter what the reason, many Vietnamese women who terminate their pregnancies say they often have to face harsh judgments about their choices.
Vietnam does not have specific regulations against abortion. The national healthcare instructions said if an abortion is needed, it is only recommended at up to 18 weeks of the pregnancy. Ritsu Nacken, acting representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Vietnam, said any abortion restrictions would make abortion more dangerous for the women. “Evidence shows that where abortion is permitted on broad legal grounds, it is generally safe, and where it is highly restricted, it is typically unsafe.” 
Nacken also said studies have proved that legal obstructions do not reduce abortions.
Media reports have pointed out that in countries that ban abortion, like South Korea for example, women just go overseas. Nguyen Thi Bich Hang, director of sexual and reproductive health service provider Marie Stopes Vietnam, said: “Women will always experience unintended pregnancies and there will always be a need for access to quality, safe abortion services.” 
The experts suggested that Vietnam’s government should improve sexual and reproductive healthcare and family planning services so its women are no longer caught between the lack of the services and unsafe abortions. “If quality services are available, women do not need to undergo abortions.”
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