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A woman’s choice

The topic of abortion has received worldwide attention and the legality of abortion has often generated controversy.

Most abortions can be provided on a day care basis without having to stay overnight at a clinic. Approximately 25 per cent of the world’s population live in countries with restrictive abortion laws. Abortion is still illegal in many countries.

Religion plays an important role in many of the countries where abortion is illegal.

In countries such as the US, France, Italy, Australia, China and Cambodia, abortion is legal. Abortion is still a controversial topic of discussion, and it should be addressed so women can choose freely, without fear, whether to abort a pregnancy.

In September this year, hundreds of high-school students in New York received the morning-after-pill, the first hormonal contraceptive made available by the city’s health department. The program was designed to battle the problem of unplanned pregnancies among teens, with qualified staff and school nurses available to provide advice and medical care.

Abortion has been legal in Cambodia since 1997. The Abortion Law states that women may request abortion on demand for pregnancies up to 12 weeks. The procedure can only be performed by authorised secondary midwives, medical doctors or medical assistants, and in clinics or hospitals approved by the Ministry of Health.

Some women go to unsafe and unregistered clinics, which have contributed to 25 per cent of maternal deaths.

The Department for International Development reported that some women have tried to self-induce abortions by jumping, taking pills supplied from pharmacists and dinking hot and strong wine mixed with a herb, 11-Tiger, and chili.

Marie Stopes International Cambodia provides high-quality abortion services with seven clinics throughout the country. The voluntary surgical outreach program is aimed at increasing women’s and men’s awareness of their contraception options, and provides voluntary sterilisation choices to those who have decided they don’t want to have any more children.

Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia (RHAC) clinics in Phnom Penh have separate entrances leading into a library. The clinic is a youth friendly service which also provides confidentiality. People will not know if the young women are accessing abortion services or going to the library.

Addressing unsafe abortions and increasing access to family planning services can significantly lower the high maternal mortality rate.

Unwanted pregnancies cannot be entirely avoided, but their incidence can be reduced through strengthening access to sexual and reproductive health education and services, contraception and social acceptability.

If you need more information or assistance, contact the Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia (RHAC).

For pregnancy advice and an options hotline, call Marie Stopes International Cambodia at 068 700 012 or 090 700 012.

The Social Agenda with Soma Norodom
The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

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