Cuban Women Use Abortion as Contraception, Eleven Abortion Deaths in 2004

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 1, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Cuban Women Use Abortion as Contraception, Eleven Abortion Deaths in 2004

Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 1, 2006

Havana, Cuba ( — Cuba is the exception to the norm when it comes to Latin American nations and abortions. Countries in Central and South America typically have strong pro-life laws prohibiting all or most abortions, in concert with their Catholic faith.

Cuba, on the other hand, legalized abortion 40 years ago and it has become a method of contraception.

Abortion has become so pervasive in Cuba that many women rely on it as birth control in stead of using the birth control pill or contraception.

That’s the summary of a new survey conducted by statistician Miriam Gran for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Gran interviewed more than 4,000 women across the country and found that women rely on abortion as a "quick fix" and say they consider it a "safe method" of birth control. Even though the abortion rate in Cuba is on the decline over the last two years, its use as a contraceptive method is not, Gran told the Inter Press Service news agency.

Gran’s study focused on about 1,800 women who had abortions and another 2,400 who carried the pregnancy to term.

Among those who had abortions, 52.2 percent said they did because they had "given up" on the use of another form of contraception, IPS reported. Another 30.1 percent had a "lack of knowledge" about contraception and 7.3 percent said they simply prefer abortions to using birth control.

The high abortion rate in Cuba has also increased the number of women having complications and dying from the abortion procedure.

IPS reports that the Public Health Ministry’s Health Statistics Yearbook indicates 11 women died in 2004 alone from botched abortions.

Meanwhile, the news agency reported that Cuba health officials believe that more than 70 percent of women who have infertility problems have a history of one or more abortions.

Raimundo Rojas, a Cuban-Ameican who is the Hispanic outreach director for National Right to Life, told he’s distressed but not surprised that abortion has become "commonplace" in Cuba.

"There is no pro-life movement in Cuba," he explained. "Those who speak out against it are arrested, brutalized, and terrorized in their communities."

Rojas pointed to the case of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, who was arrested and served three years in a prison camp after publishing an article condemning abortion. After he was released, Biscet was again arrested and is serving 22 years in prison for anti-government views.

While women have died from abortions in Cuba, maternal mortality is relatively low there compared to other nations. Rojas said the UNFPA is wrongly claiming that legalizing abortion has lowered those rates.

"Their claim that a decrease in maternal mortality is directly attributed to a nation’s abortion laws is as false as it is dangerous and shows in what slight regard these organizations hold women’s health," he explained. "Cuba has more doctors than most nations, and healthcare is free and widely accessible — that, and not the decriminalization of abortion, is what keeps the maternal mortality low."

Patricia García, a 21-year-old university student, is the kind of woman Gran saw in her survey. She told IPS she has had two abortions since first having sexual relations at the age of 17. She is pregnant a third time now and is planning to have an abortion.

"Not that I like it, but it is a solution," she said. "Something always goes wrong, you either forget to take one of your pills or the condom breaks."

Abortions are legal in Cuba before the 10th week of pregnancy as long as they are done within the public health system. There were 67,277 abortions in 2004, which is a decline from nearly 161,000 in 1986.

Related web sites:
National Right to Life –