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Clandestine Abortion in Peru: Facts and Figures 2002

Throughout the centuries, women and their partners have been constantly concerned with controlling their fertility. In former times, people’s lack of understanding of the physiology of reproduction led them to try a variety of methods to limit the number of children they had, including the interruption of pregnancy as a last resort. Despite the years that have passed since then and the different strategies employed, this situation has not changed. Numerous studies show that unwanted pregnancy affects women of all social classes (both from urban and rural areas) for a variety of reasons, including women’s unequal status in society, their limited possibilities for making decisions, insufficient sexual and reproductive education, as well as the barriers to their access to quality, efficient reproductive health services. As a result, women continue to resort to induced abortion to resolve the problem of unwanted pregnancy, despite the pain and guilt associated with this decision.

In an effort to prevent induced abortion, the government has long penalized it. Rather than solve the problem, this approach has led to the widespread practice of clandestine abortion. Poor women undergo abortions in unsanitary conditions, thereby putting their health at risk. This is demonstrated by the high rate of maternal morbidity and mortality associated with abortion.

Clandestine abortion is recognized in our country as a public health problem, but it is addressed as a moral, religious or legal issue. As a result, the abortion problem has become a social justice and human rights issue.

The Flora Tristán Peruvian Women’s Center and Pathfinder International are pleased to present the book Clandestine Abortion in Peru; facts and figures. This study updates the research project “Clandestine abortion, a Peruvian reality,” implemented in 1994 by the Alan Guttmacher Institute. The study was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Ford Foundation.

Anthropologist-demographer Delicia Ferrando was responsible for both the study and the research project. This study was undertaken to fulfill the objective of these institutions to generate information that contributes both to the exercise of sexual and reproductive rights within a human-rights framework as well as to the development of pertinent government policies.

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