Study: Cuban Women Prefer Abortion as Birth Control Method

Fri Jun 2, 2006 - 12:15 pm EST

By Gudrun Schultz

HAVANA, Cuba, June 2, 2006 ( – Abortion is frequently used as method of birth control in Cuba, and many women say they actually prefer to abort an unwanted child than to use some other method of birth control, a new study reports.

IPS News reported yesterday on research by biostatistics expert Miriam Gran, entitled “Voluntary termination of pregnancy and contraception: two methods of fertility control.” Her research was supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which works to promote abortion access in developing countries.

Ms. Gran interviewed more than 4,000 women across the country for her study. That number included 1,806 women who had undergone at least one abortion and 2,442 who had carried their children to term.

Of the women who had abortions, 52.2 percent said they had “given up” some birth control method and 7.3 percent, 132 of the women questioned, said they “preferred” abortion over birth control.

Patricia Garcia is a 21-year-old university student who has had two abortions in the last four years and is waiting on the results of a pregnancy test to schedule a third abortion.

“Not that I like it, but it is a solution,” Ms Garcia told IPS. “Something always goes wrong, you either forget to take one of your pills or the condom breaks.” She said she does not think about the physical risks of the surgical procedure, although she admitted to fearing the “disagreeable process” and the pain and resulting sickness.

Other reasons women gave for preferring abortion were similar. “It’s a safe method,”“it’s not a big deal,”“it’s a quick fix,” they said. Contraceptive methods “cause discomfort and are neither effective nor pleasant,” some said.

IPS News reported that experts believe more than 70 percent of Cuban women who report fertility problems have had one or more abortions as teenagers or young adults.

Abortion was made legal in Cuba in 1965. Records show 67,277 abortions took place in 2004, the last year available for statistics. That number, however, does not include early-term abortions known as “menstrual regulation,” in which a child is aborted within the first few weeks of pregnancy.

The procedure is excluded from Cuba’s recorded abortion rates. Menstrual regulations, or menstrual extractions, as they are more commonly called, are performed using suction aspiration to empty the womb when a menstrual period is delayed, frequently without performing a pregnancy test. If the woman is pregnant, the child will be aborted.

The procedure rate for menstrual extractions was 36 per 1,000 women in 2004. Added to the current rate of abortion by other methods, reported at 20.9 abortions per 1,000 women, the total abortion rate for the country is a staggering 56.9 abortions per 1000 women, meaning that 59 percent of all pregnancies end in abortion.

  The statistics are complicated by the fact that some menstrual extractions will not result in abortion, since some women will experience a delay in their period for reasons other than pregnancy.

Excluding abortions carried out by menstrual extraction, records show 52.5 abortions for every 100 live births.

The number of recorded abortions in the country has dropped over recent years, but that decline is at least partially attributable to the exclusion of menstrual extractions from the abortion records. The moderate reduction in abortions is also attributed, in part, to the country’s declining population rate. Cuba’s fertility rate is below the population replacement level, with just 0.75 girls born per woman.

Despite these figures, the UNFPA continues to cooperate with Cuba’s reproductive “health” measures, contributing 3.3 million dollars to reproductive health projects for the period 2004-2007.

See related LifeSiteNews coverage:

UNFPA Denied U.S. Funds for Fourth Year

UNFPA Earmarks $26 Million for Philippine De-Population Programme

UNFPA Pitches Abortion as a Means to Reduce Child Poverty

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