For example, as many as 10,000 Kenyan teenage girls a year drop out of school because of unwanted pregnancies and abortions. Many try to abort themselves with cocktails of drugs or crude mechanical devices inserted into the uterus. At Kenyatta Hospital, one of the largest public hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa with 2,000 beds, complications from induced and incomplete abortions account for about 50% of gynaecological admissions -- or about 20 patients a day and more than 6,000 a year. A non-profit group considers that one-third of maternal deaths in Kenya are due to unsafe abortions; the WHO figures indicate that the number worldwide is one in eight.
In countries with high birth rates, abortion ratios per 1000 births are thought to be low (WHO report, 1970). By contrast, in recent years induced abortions seem to have exceeded live births in several countries with low birth rates. In China alone, an average of 1 million abortions a year have been performed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, in keeping with the government's campaign to limit population growth. In the former USSR, 90% of first pregnancies end in abortion; there abortions are the main form of birth control and each woman on average undergoes 4-5 abortions in her lifetime. With a rate exceeding 4,000 procedures per day, abortion is by far the most common invasive surgical procedure performed in the USA.
In 1991, 200,000 women had terminations in the UK; the number has been growing steadily for the previous 10 years and most estimates suggest at least half of these pregnancies were in couples who used not contraception. In 1993 in the USA, there are around 1.6 million abortions each year.
Non-surgical abortion using the drug mifepristone (RU486) together with prostaglandins is an abortificant available legally in 1994 in France, Britain and Sweden. There is fierce debate as to its world-wide licensing.
2. The acceptance of abortion in the popular mind, in behaviour and even in law itself, is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake. Given such a grave situation, we need now more than ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception. In this regard the reproach of the Prophet is extremely straightforward: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness" (Isiah 5:20). Especially in the case of abortion there is a widespread use of ambiguous terminology, such as "interruption of pregnancy", which tends to hide abortion's true nature and to attenuate its seriousness in public opinion. Perhaps this linguistic phenomenon is itself a symptom of an uneasiness of conscience. But no word has the power to change the reality of things: procured abortion is the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence, extending from conception to birth. (Papal Encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, 25 March 1995).