Private Lives, Public Policies

In the Soviet Union, where contraceptives are both unpopular and hard to obtain, the average woman has six abortions in her lifetime. In Kenya, where a man's wealth is often measured by the number of his children, the average woman bears eight children. In Mexico City, where herbal abortifacients are sold in markets, four out of five beds in the Woman's Hospital are filled by women suffering complications after illegal abortions. In Italy, where abortion has been legal since 1978, Pope John Paul II condemns even contraception, fueling fierce political debate.

An endless variety of laws, restrictions, customs and traditions affects the...

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