Bulgaria Has One of the World’s Highest Abortion Rates UN Report Says

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 15, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Bulgaria Has One of the World’s Highest Abortion Rates UN Report Says Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 15,

Sophia, Bulgaria (LifeNews.com) — A new United Nations report that studied the abortion rates of 61 countries across the globe finds the nation of Bulgaria is among the leaders. The findings aren’t much of a surprise as citizens of most of the eastern European nations have long regarded abortion as a form of birth control.

The UN’s demographic department conducted the study and included nations with varying abortion laws. Bulgaria was one of the ones with laws allowing virtually unlimited abortions for any reason.

According to the report, there are about 21 abortions per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44, while most nations show a rate of less than 10 per 1,000. Sixteen of the 61 nations showed levels above 20 and Bulgaria is among them.

The report also indicated that Bulgaria is one of the leaders in terms of the earliest average age of a first pregnancy, which highlights the problems of teenage pregnancy the nation has.

LifeNews.com reported in June that a doctor who quoted figures from the country’s government said nearly 67,000 abortions are done annually in Bulgaria.

Elian Rachey said that he thinks the nation should do more to promote the use of contraception in order to reduce the high number of abortions that have decimated the population there.

Rachey said about one-third of all Bulgarian women decide what forms of contraception to use without consulting a doctor, resulting in their ineffectiveness.

Polling data from the national government finds that about 53 percent of all women said they started using contraception or birth control pills in their early 20s. Another 33 percent of women said they began using the birth control pill in their teenage years.

The high abortion rates there are causing significant population problems.

Bulgaria has long had more abortions than births and was previously estimated to lose as much as 40 percent of its population. Looking to stem the problems of underpopulation abortion has caused, the Bulgarian government has approved measures over the years to promote birth.

The Bulgaria cabinet approved a strategy to target population issues by 2020. The plan includes measures to reduce the number of abortions, lower infant mortality rates and raise literacy levels.

The number of abortions compared to 1,000 births was 750 in 2001 but at its worst in the 1990s, the health ministry reported 93,540 abortions were carried out in one year compared to 72,188 births.

Having a baby in Bulgaria became a costly decision and abortions were seen as a method of birth control and much cheaper to afford. Forty percent of women in Bulgaria have had an abortion compared to 20 to 30 percent in most industrialized nations.

"My salary amounts to 130 German marks (72 dollars) and my husband, who is an engineer, is unemployed," a 32 year-old woman told the French Press Agency. "One bag of powdered milk costs 17 marks and a baby stroller 160 marks. How can we even dream of having children?"

"I regretted having an abortion because I was dreaming of having another child," another woman said. "But how can I afford a maternity leave when we don’t have enough money even though my husband and I work."

In the late 1990s, only Russia and Romania had more abortions and both countries face the same underpopulation problems. Abortions have only decreased in recent years because so many Bulgarian women have moved to other nations.

The birth rate in Bulgaria was onetime at 7.89 births per 1,000 residents, the lowest percentage in Europe.

The infant mortality rate has also been a problem and it was 12.3 per 1,000 in 2003. Officials hope to lower it to 9.5 per 1,000 by 2015.

Through the new strategy, which also includes plans to help the country’s aging population, the Cabinet plants to create better child-raising conditions and to work to lower migration from villages to cities.