Skip to content

Women's Health

Worldwide Abortion Rates Down

Unsafe Abortions Are Most Common in Developing Countries
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 12, 2007 -- Four million fewer abortions were performed worldwide in 2003 than in 1995, according to a new study published in The Lancet.

The study includes international abortion statistics from 1995 and 2003, the most recent year for which abortion statistics are available in many countries.

Findings include:

  • There were 42 million abortions in 2003, down from 46 million in 1995.
  • The 2003 global abortion rate was 29 per 1,000 women aged 15-44, down from 35 per 1,000 in 1995.
  • The 2003 abortion rate in the U.S. and Canada was 21 per 1,000 women.
  • Western Europe had the lowest abortion rate.
  • Eastern Europe had the highest abortion rate.
  • Nearly half (48%) of all abortions in 2003 were unsafe, and most unsafe abortions (97%) were in developing countries.

The team of researchers who worked on the study included two experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, and three from the Guttmacher Institute in New York, which focuses on sexual and reproductive health.

They used the WHO's definition of unsafe abortions, which include "any procedure to terminate an unintended pregnancy done either by people lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards, or both."

Unsafe abortions included abortions in countries with "restrictive abortion laws, as well as abortions that do not meet legal requirements in countries with less restrictive laws," write the Guttmacher Institute's Gilda Sedgh, ScD, and colleagues.

Based on the findings, Sedgh's team writes that "unsafe and safe abortions correspond in large part with illegal and legal abortions, respectively."

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
 
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
insomnia
Is it menopause or something else?
 
woman in bathtub
Slideshow
Doctor discussing screening with patient
VIDEO
 
bp app on smartwatch and phone
Slideshow
iud
Expert views
 

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Blood pressure check
Slideshow
hot water bottle on stomach
Quiz
 
question
Assessment
Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror
Quiz