Increases in global contraceptive use have contributed to a decrease in the number of unintended pregnancies and, in turn, a decline in the number of abortions, which fell from an estimated 45.5 million procedures in 1995 to 41.6 million in 2003. While both the developed and the developing world experienced these positive trends, developed regions saw the greatest progress. Within the developing world, improvement varied widely, with Africa lagging behind other regions, according to “Abortion Worldwide: A Decade of Uneven Progress,” a major new Guttmacher Institute report released today.
The decline in worldwide abortion occurred alongside a global trend toward liberalizing abortion laws. Nineteen countries have significantly reduced restrictions in their abortion laws since 1997, while only three countries have substantially increased legal restrictions. Despite these trends, 40% of the world’s women live in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws, virtually all of them in the developing world. In Africa, 92% of reproductive-age women live under highly restrictive abortion laws, and in Latin America, 97% do so. These proportions have not changed markedly over the past decade.
The report finds that while the incidence of abortion is closely related to that of unintended pregnancy, it does not correlate with abortion’s legal status. Indeed, abortion occurs at roughly equal rates in regions where it is broadly legal and in regions where it is highly restricted. The key difference is safety—illegal, clandestine abortions cause significant harm to women, especially in developing countries.
“The progress made during the past decade in increasing contraceptive use and reducing the need for abortion is fundamentally good news—the world is moving in the right direction,” says Sharon Camp, president and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute. “And yet, we still have two widely disparate realities. In almost all developed countries, abortion is safe and legal. But in much of the developing world, abortion remains highly restricted, and unsafe abortion is common and continues to damage women’s health and threaten their survival.”
Unsafe abortion causes an estimated 70,000 deaths each year, and an additional five million women are treated annually for complications resulting from unsafe abortion. Approximately three million women who experience serious complications from unsafe procedures go untreated.
Worldwide, the unintended pregnancy rate declined from 69 per 1,000 women aged 15–44 in 1995 to 55 per 1,000 in 2008. The proportion of married women using contraception increased from 54% in 1990 to 63% in 2003. Increases also occurred among sexually active single women. However, regional levels of contraceptive use varied greatly: While 71% of married women in Latin American and the Caribbean were using contraceptives in 2003, only 28% of married African women were doing so. Nearly one in four married women in Africa had an unmet need for contraception in 2002–2007, compared with 10–13% of their counterparts in Asia and in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The decline in real numbers is even more impressive when you consider world population growth between 1995 and 2008.
In a press conference, Camp compared various parts of the world.
Western Europe is held up as an example of what access to contraceptive services can achieve, and the Netherlands - with just 10 abortions per 1,000 women compared to the world's 29 per 1,000 - is held up as the gold standard.
Here, young people report using two forms of contraception as standard.
Even the UK, which has a relatively high rate, fares well in comparison to the US, where the number of abortions is among the highest in the developed world. The institute says this rate is in part explained by inconsistencies in insurance coverage of contraceptive supplies.
What's the rate in Canads, you ask?
I couldn't find more recent data than this from The Star:
As a result, the abortion rate slipped to 14.1 for every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 in 2005 from 14.6 in 2004.
By comparison, the rate per 1,000 women in the Excited States is 19.4.
Aside (sorta): the LA Times covered the spin put on this report by various news media.
Headlines can't explain everything but, taken as a whole, they can be revealing nonetheless.
From Reuters: Unsafe abortions kill 70000 a year, harm millions
From Fox News: Abortion rights group: Unsafe abortions kill 70,000 per year
From NPR: Report shows fewer abortions worldwide
From BBC News: Bans 'do not cut abortion rate'
From Toronto's Globe and Mail: Moving away from abortion
And, speaking of spin, here's Lifeshite's take: Propoganda!!!!!! (rightwingnutz usual spledding)
That's the Guttmacher Institute they're calling 'pro-abort propagandists', except when they agree with its studies.