Unintended Pregnancy and Abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean
Model-based estimates offer an opportunity to observe and assess unintended pregnancy and abortion over time and, because they enable comparability across borders and groups, to do so for individual countries, for regions and globally. Estimates for regions and subregions, as defined by the United Nations Statistics Division groupings,* can offer advocates, policymakers, researchers and others valuable insight into sexual and reproductive health and autonomy. Regional estimates can help reveal disparities and areas where continued investment is needed to ensure that individuals can access the full spectrum of quality sexual and reproductive health care.
The estimates below provide an overview of the incidence of unintended pregnancy and abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean from 1990 through 2019; the values are based on average annual estimates for five-year time periods. To view these estimates for countries within this region, find specific country profiles on guttmacher.org.
Unintended pregnancy and abortion in South America
- In South America, the unintended pregnancy rate declined by 26% between 1990–1994 and 2015–2019.
- During the same period, the abortion rate declined by 9%.
- The share of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion rose from 38% to 46%.
- In 2015–2019, there were a total of 11,900,000 pregnancies annually.
- Of these, 7,920,000 pregnancies were unintended and 3,680,000 ended in abortion.
Unintended pregnancy and abortion in the Caribbean
- In the Caribbean, the unintended pregnancy rate declined by 22% between 1990–1994 and 2015–2019.
- During the same period, the abortion rate declined by 20%.
- The share of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion remained at around 50%.
- In 2015–2019, there were a total of 1,370,000 pregnancies annually.
- Of these, 918,000 pregnancies were unintended and 457,000 ended in abortion.
Unintended pregnancy and abortion in Central America
- In Central America, the unintended pregnancy rate declined by 30% between 1990–1994 and 2015–2019.
- During the same period, the abortion rate increased by 10%.
- The share of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion rose from 29% to 46%.
- In 2015–2019, there were a total of 5,390,000 pregnancies annually.
- Of these, 2,880,000 pregnancies were unintended and 1,320,000 ended in abortion.
The information in this fact sheet is based on Bearak J et al., Unintended pregnancy and abortion by income, region, and the legal status of abortion: estimates from a comprehensive model for 1990–2019, Lancet Global Health, 2020, 8(9):e1152–e1161, https://doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(20)30315-6. Regional and subregional trends in this fact sheet were re-estimated using a revised data set, available on OSF; revised estimates are available at the Guttmacher Data Center.
*Caribbean: Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United States Virgin Islands
Central America: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama
South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela
This fact sheet was made possible by UK Aid from the UK Government and grants from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation. The findings and conclusions contained within do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of the donors.