Maternal mortality—that is, women dying from pregnancy-related complications—is driven by a range of factors. They include a country’s overall level of development, women’s status in society, the quality and accessibility of health services (including care before, during and after pregnancy), women’s ability to time and space their pregnancies via contraception, the legal status of abortion and the availability of safe abortion services (or, lacking those, access to adequate postabortion care).
Previous research has found that unsafe abortion—procedures performed by an untrained provider, in an unsafe setting or both—is among the main drivers of pregnancy-related deaths in developing countries, accounting for about 13% of maternal mortality. It is well-established that subregions with high unsafe abortion rates also have a high incidence of abortion-related maternal deaths, and abortion-related mortality is low or nonexistent in countries with liberal abortion laws.
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