Millions of illegal abortions performed in Indonesia annually

Other News Materials 24 February 2008 11:55 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - At least 2.5 million abortions are performed annually in Indonesia, although the practice is illegal in the predominantly Muslim country, state-run media reported Sunday.

"The figure does not yet include abortions effected with non-medical assistance or with the help of shaman," Jurnalis Uddin, a professor at the Jakarta-based YARSI University was quoted as saying by Antara news agency.

Uddin claimed that research conducted at medical facilities had led to the conclusion practice of illegal abortions needs to be given serious attention by the government and society.

Research done by the World Health Organization showed 20 to 60 per cent of abortions in Indonesia were induced abortions and 50 percent of the cases were in urban areas, he added.

In urban areas, 70 per cent of the cases were conducted in stealth by medical practitioners, while in rural areas 84 percent of the cases were performed by shaman, Uddin said.

Most of the women who had abortions were in the 20-29 age bracket, he said, adding that rape-induced pregnancy, detected genetic defect in the foetus and unfavorable socioeconomic conditions were among the reasons given.

Abortion was banned in 1992, while an edict issued by the Indonesian Council of Ulemas - the country's highest authority on Islam - strongly forbids it except in an emergency attempt to save the woman's life.

Nearly 90 per cent of Indonesia's 225 million people are Muslim.