Many women dying of unsafe abortions in Timor-Leste – new UN-backed report

9 June 2009

A new United Nations-supported report on maternal mortality, pregnancy and abortion in Timor-Leste shows that women may die because of unsafe abortions in the small nation.

The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) said the report, supported by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and Alola, a local non-governmental organization, “will offer to the Government and to the people in Timor-Leste tangible facts regarding the occurrence and practice of unsafe abortion in the country.”

Hernando Agudelo, the UNFPA country representative in Timor-Leste, said that the with the study, “we wanted to show this reality – women may die because of unsafe abortion – within the Timorese society and give to the society a tool for reflection, for taking informed decisions.”

He added that “at this point time of its history where the Parliament and the Government were taking the decision on how to deal with this controversial issue, this study shows that there are unwanted pregnancies and therefore a necessity to ensure country wide access to family planning services.”

Mr. Agudelo voiced hope that the new publication will be used as an advocacy tool to lobby for women’s full access to quality medical care and family planning services, as well as fully realizing their reproductive rights.

The report, entitled “Maternal Mortality, Unplanned Pregnancy and Unsafe Abortion in Timor-Leste: A Situation Analysis,” was undertaken by Charles Darwin University in Australia, with the endorsement of the Ministries of Justice and Health, UNMIT said.

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