New estimates from the World Health Organization show that as of 2008, 26.1 million unsafe abortions take place annually, nearly all (98 percent) in developing countries.
New estimates from the World Health Organization show that as of 2008, 26.1 million unsafe abortions take place annually, nearly all (98 percent) in developing countries. These estimates reveal that the annual number of unsafe abortions has risen as the world’s population has grown, but that better access to contraception and safe abortion contributed to a modest decline in rates of unsafe abortion in many regions of the world. “Some 47,000 women per year are estimated to lose their lives from complications of unsafe abortion, almost all of which could have been prevented through better access to sexuality education, fertility awareness, contraception and especially safe abortion services,” the report states.
Rates of unsafe abortion were highest in central and eastern Africa, where unmet need for contraception is great and access to safe abortion is highly restricted. By contrast, in countries like the United States, where contraceptive use is widespread and abortion is safe and legal, serious injury and death from abortion are virtually nonexistent.
“The numbers are quite clear, where contraception is broadly available and abortion is legal and safe, women are able to avoid unsafe abortions,” said Mary-Jane Wagle, Vice President International, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Planned Parenthood urges governments around the world to make contraception affordable and available, ramp up their investments in new technologies like medication abortion for earlier, safer procedures, and to reexamine restrictive abortion policies in light of the scientific evidence. Banning abortion does not make it go away; it only makes it unsafe.”
Maternal mortality rates released earlier this year by a group of UN agencies including WHO, showed far greater declines, indicating that progress in reducing unsafe abortion lags behind other efforts to improve women’s health worldwide.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433
May 14, 2014