MELBOURNE – In the Dominican Republic last month, a pregnant teenager suffering from leukemia had her chemotherapy delayed, because doctors feared that the treatment could terminate her pregnancy and therefore violate the nation’s strict anti-abortion law. After consultations between doctors, lawyers, and the girl’s family, chemotherapy eventually was begun, but not before attention had again been focused on the rigidity of many developing countries’ abortion laws.
Abortion receives extensive media coverage in developed countries, especially in the United States, where Republicans have used opposition to it to rally voters. Recently, President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign counter-attacked, releasing a television advertisement in which a woman says that it is “a scary time to be a woman,” because Mitt Romney has said that he supports outlawing abortion.
But much less attention is given to the 86% of all abortions that occur in the developing world. Although a majority of countries in Africa and Latin America have laws prohibiting abortion in most circumstances, official bans do not prevent high abortion rates.......