Abortion Worldwide

This week, thousands of women’s health and empowerment advocates are in Kuala Lumpur for the Women Deliver 2013 conference. The conference, hailed as the largest global event of its kind this decade, is bringing together policy makers, advocates and researchers alike who are committed to reducing maternal mortality and increasing access to reproductive health.  The Guttmacher Institute’s staff and research are among those featured throughout the conference, including a short video presenting key evidence on abortion worldwide.

This video packs a punch with some very compelling statistics:

  • Some of the largest number of abortions are performed in Latin America (32 abortions per 1000) and Africa (29 abortions per 1000), where it is highly restricted in almost every country
  • The world’s lowest abortion rates are in Western Europe (12 abortions per 1000), where the procedure is both legal and widely accessible
  • In the developing world, 222 MILLION women want to avoid pregnancy, but aren’t using a modern contraceptive method. For many, what resources are available to them do not meet their needs, while others lack access to family planning methods altogether.
  • If these women’s family planning needs were met, unintended pregnancies would decline from 80,000,000 to 26,000,000 annually, and there would be 26 million FEWER abortions each year

The bottom line? There is little relationship between the legal status of abortion and how often it occurs. Making abortion illegal will not eradicate the practice; rather, it will result in women seeking unsafe abortions, which can have the deadliest of consequences. Indeed, unsafe abortion is a leading cause of maternal death. Each year, 47,000 women die from complications of unsafe abortion.

The best way to reduce the rate of abortions is to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies to begin with.

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