Intended for healthcare professionals


Global abortion rate stalls while proportion of unsafe abortions rises

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 20 January 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e518
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. 1London

The global abortion rate, which declined substantially between 1995 and 2003, has now levelled out while the proportion of all abortions that are unsafe continues to increase.

The worldwide abortion rate per 1000 women aged between 15 and 44 dropped from 35 in 1995 to 29 in 2003. A new study by the Guttmacher Institute in New York and the World Health Organization has found that in 2008 the global abortion rate was 28 per 1000 women.

The study, published online in the Lancet (doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61786-8), also found that the proportion of abortions categorised as unsafe rose from 44% in 1995 to 49% in 2008.

Nearly all unsafe abortions (98 %) occur in developing countries. In the developing world, 56% of all abortions are unsafe, compared with 6% in the developed world. Since 2003 the number of abortions fell by 600 000 in the developed world but increased by 2.8 million in the developing world.

Gilda …

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