IPPF welcomes the release by the Guttmacher Institute of new worldwide estimates of abortion incidence. These estimates provide valuable information for organizations like IPPF working to improve access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
A key finding from the study is that roughly one in four pregnancies globally ends in abortion, showing that abortion is a common occurrence in many women’s life. The study also shows that the larger decline in abortion rates between 1990 and 2014 occurred in developed countries (where abortion is generally legal and available), but rates have not changed significantly in the developing world, where abortion laws are often restrictive. This demonstrates that restricting access to safe legal abortion does not reduce the number of abortions but rather pushes abortions underground, leading to risks to women’s health and lives.
While estimates seem to indicate a reduction in abortion related deaths, complications from unsafe abortion - while less serious due to increased access to post-abortion care and increased availability of misoprostol - continue to affect millions of women each year. In fact, data for 2012 show that 6.9 million women in developing regions were treated for complications from unsafe abortions. Developing regions also continue to be disproportionally affected by unsafe abortion, with nearly all deaths due to unsafe abortion occurring in developing countries, with the highest number occurring in Africa.
Very importantly, the study outlines how high levels of unmet need for contraception contribute to higher abortion rates in developing regions. This again shows the relevance of organizations like IPPF working to prevent unwanted pregnancy through modern contraceptive services, promote comprehensive sexuality education and eliminate sexual violence and coercion. At the same time, IPPF recognizes the importance of increasing access to safe abortion services and IPPF will continue to provide access to safe abortion and to promote a woman’s right to choose.