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Worldwide Abortion: Legality, Incidence and Safety

Quick Stats

• After declining substantially between 1995 and 2003, the worldwide abortion rate stalled between 2003 and 2008. Between 1995 and 2003, the global abortion rate dropped from 35 to 29. It remained virtually unchanged at 28 in 2008.[1]

• In 2008, six million abortions were performed in developed countries and 38 million in developing countries, a disparity that largely reflects population distribution.[1]

• Globally, the proportion of abortions that take place in the developing world increased between 1995 and 2008, from 78% to 86%, in part because the proportion of all women who live in the developing world increased during this period.[1]

• Nearly half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, and nearly all unsafe abortions occur in developing countries. In the developing world, 56% of all abortions are unsafe, compared with 6% in the developed world.[1]

• Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. For example, the abortion rate is high, at 29 and 32 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Africa and Latin America, respectively—regions where abortion is illegal under most circumstances in the majority of countries. In Western Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds, the abortion rate is 12 per 1,000.[1]

• Where abortion is legal on broad grounds, it is generally safe, and where it is illegal in most circumstances, it is generally unsafe. For example, in the United States, where abortion is legal on broad grounds, induced abortion results in 0.6 deaths per 100,000 procedures. In Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, abortion results in 30 and 460 deaths per 100,000 procedures, respectively.[2]

• Each year 47,000 women die as a result of unsafe abortion, accounting for 13% of all maternal deaths worldwide. Almost all of these deaths occur in developing countries.[1]

REFERENCE

REFERENCES

Fact Sheets

WORLDWIDE

Making Abortion Services Accessible in the Wake of Legal Reforms

Facts on Induced Abortion Worldwide
    In Spanish

REGIONAL

Facts on Abortion and Unintended Pregnancy in Africa

Facts on Abortion and Unintended Pregnancy in Asia

Facts on Abortion and Unintended Pregnancy in Latin America and the Caribbean
    In Spanish

COUNTRY

Facts on Unintended Pregnancy and Induced Abortion in Colombia
     Spanish version

Facts on Unintended Pregnancy and Abortion in Ethiopia

Facts on Induced Abortion in Pakistan
    Urdu version

Facts on Abortion in Kenya

Facts on Induced Abortion in Mexico
    Spanish version

Facts on Unwanted Pregnancy and Induced Abortion in Nigeria