February 19, 2010
- 19-20 million women in
developing countries resort to unsafe (usually illegal) abortions every
year. 98% of unsafe abortions occur in
countries with restrictive abortion laws (generally archaic laws passed
former colonial powers). There are 42 million abortions a year in total.
- 68,000 women die every
year from unsafe abortion. 8 million women experience
serious enough to require treatment. Of
million never receive medical treatment.
- Thirteen percent of
all pregnancy-related deaths are due to unsafe abortion.
- Unsafe abortion is the
only cause of maternal mortality that is entirely preventable.
- The highest abortion rates in the world are
generally in developing countries with strict criminal laws against
don’t stop abortion; they only drive it underground and make it
rates are lower and have been declining in countries where it is legal
- 220,000 children worldwide lose their mothers
every year from abortion-related deaths. (Most women in the developing
who have abortions are married with children.)
- When a pregnant woman dies from unsafe abortion,
her existing children are 10 times more likely to die within the next
- 215 million women in the developing world have
an unmet need for modern contraceptives (meaning they want to avoid a
but are using an ineffective family planning method or no method).
- If all women who wanted
contraception received it, more than 53 million unintended pregnancies
would be averted, preventing 25 million abortions, 150,000 maternal
deaths, and 640,000 newborn deaths. (Childbirth is dangerous in many
developing countries – for example, the lifetime risk of maternal death
is 1 in 17 in West and Central Africa, and 1 in 8000 in industrialized
- Additional consequences of unsafe abortion
include loss of productivity, economic burden on public health systems,
and long-term health problems like infertility.
- The costs of
treating the 5 million women who
are hospitalized every year after unsafe abortion is at least $460
million. In Africa, complications of
abortion account for 30 to 50
percent of maternal deaths, and hospitals’ maternity wards and budgets
often largely diverted to treating these complications.
legal abortion saves women's lives. Without
exception, every country that has legalized abortion has seen dramatic
decreases in deaths and serious complications due to unsafe abortion.
western industrialized countries, death from unsafe abortion has been