Over the past two years, there has been a war going on in America over a woman’s right to choose. Since ascending to power in state and federal governments, Republicans have been on a crusade to limit women’s reproductive rights. From attempts to defund Planned Parenthood  and enacting laws that require extra hurdles for women seeking the procedure, to the bilboard campaign which claimed black children were in danger, abortion has been a hot topic lately. But a new study may bolster the claims of those who believe in a woman’s right to control her reproductive health.

According to a new study published in the medical journal The Lancet, abortion rates were highest in countries that limit the procedure. The study found, “abortion rates were lowest in Western Europe – 12 per 1,000 – and highest in Eastern Europe – 43 per 1,000. The rate in North America was 19 per 1,000.” Researchers also found a link between regions with higher abortion rates in regions with strict abortion laws. And even more alarming was that 95 to 97 percent of the procedures in regions that limited access to abortions were unsafe.

Although abortion is a safe procedure when performed by a qualified doctor, researchers found that in 2008 alone nearly 47,000 women died from unsafe abortions, and another 8.5 million suffered from serious complications.

In addition to more liberal abortion laws, access to contraception also accounted for lower unwanted pregnancy rates in countries where the procedure is legal.

In light of the continued push to limit the reproductive rights of women in the U.S., this study reenforces what many have already known: when abortion is illegal, some women will go to extraordinary lengths, and even risk their lives, for the procedure.

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