Social and medical experts in Sri Lanka held a conference Monday (May 09) to debate the issue of legalizing abortion in the country as over 650 illegal abortions are taking place daily according to available statistics.
Prof. K.K. Karunathilake of the Social Science Unit of the Kelaniya University has said that about 658 illegal abortions are taking place in the country daily since the country’s law bars abortions.
Addressing a conference held at the Health Education Bureau under the theme “Should Abortion be legalized”, the academic pointed out that statistics have revealed that around 658 illegal abortions were taking place daily in the country. This meant that 240,170 abortions were taking place per year.
Legalizing abortion has become a responsible issue within the education and health sectors. If illegal abortions are to be brought under control, formal sexual education should be given a prominent place in schools while relaxing the laws related to abortion, he pointed out.
Expressing his views, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist Dr. Mangala Dissanayake said the relevant authorities should make arrangements to legalize abortion on specific medical/social reasons decided by a panel of doctors.
He pointed out that Sri Lankan women seek help of those who call themselves ‘doctors’ to eliminate unwanted pregnancies and face post-abortion complications, sometimes even death.
According to Dr. Dissanayake 10 to 12 percent of maternal deaths occur in Sri Lanka due to the complications such as excessive bleeding and infections after unsafe and illegal abortions.
The specialist doctor said that the women who undergo illegal abortions at various places with the assistance of the quacks can now come to a state hospital immediately after the abortion and get their lives saved without getting arrested by the police.
He assured that the women who seek medical treatment for post-abortion health problems such as excessive bleeding and infections will not be arrested by the police.
He added that 20 to 50 percent of women who undergo abortions develop various short term and long term complications, such as mental problems and in some instances commit suicide.