This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

India Says No to Condoms and Yes to Abortion

The New York Times reports today that India has banned condom ads from prime-time TV, saying that they are not appropriate for children.
Conservative groups were outraged by recent ads, including one that featured a former porn star undressing piece by piece, and they pressured the government to step in.
But progressive social groups said it was a bad move. India, they argue, desperately needs more condom use, not less. “We need to reach out to more people with more and more advertising, not less,” said Poonam Muttreja, executive director of the Population Foundation of India, a private organization. ‘‘Condoms are one of the few methods of birth control which prevent H.I.V. and unwanted pregnancies. And they have no side effects.”
The NYTimes piece refers to a recent Deutsche Welle article about the unpopularity of condoms in India.  
While European countries have an overall 30 percent condom usage, India has less than six percent, even when it ranks third in the number of HIV cases worldwide.
Abortion, on the other hand, is very widely used in India as a means of fertility limitation, according to a paper just published in Lancet Global Health. 
We estimate that 15·6 million abortions (14·1 million–17·3 million) occurred in India in 2015. The abortion rate was 47·0 abortions (42·2–52·1) per 1000 women aged 15–49 years. 3·4 million abortions (22%) were obtained in health facilities, 11·5 million (73%) abortions were medication abortions done outside of health facilities, and 0·8 million (5%) abortions were done outside of health facilities using methods other than medication abortion. Overall, 12·7 million (81%) abortions were medication abortions, 2·2 million (14%) abortions were surgical, and 0·8 million (5%) abortions were done through other methods that were probably unsafe. We estimated 48·1 million pregnancies, a rate of 144·7 pregnancies per 1000 women aged 15–49 years, and a rate of 70·1 unintended pregnancies per 1000 women aged 15–49 years. Abortions accounted for one third of all pregnancies, and nearly half of pregnancies were unintended.
The authors conclude that the demand for abortion currently exceeds the capacity of the health system to provide safe abortion services. Of course, if more people used condoms, this problem would be lessened.

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