Reducing harm from unsafe abortion

Key global facts: unsafe abortion

A major global public health concern

Unsafe abortion remains a major global public health concern and a human rights imperative. Among the 210 million women who become pregnant each year worldwide, about 75 million pregnancies (36%) end in stillbirth, spontaneous or induced abortion.1 Each year, 21.6 million women worldwide undergo unsafe abortion procedures,2 which means an estimated one in 10 pregnancies worldwide end in an unsafe abortion.

Almost all unsafe abortions (98%) occur in settings with limited resources.3 Approximately 6.2 million unsafe abortion procedures are performed in Africa, 10.8 million in Asia, and 4.2 million in Latin America and the Caribbean each year.4

Globally, deaths related to unsafe abortion constitute an estimated 13% of maternal mortality. It is estimated that 47,000 women died from complications due to unsafe abortion in 2008.5 An additional 8.5 million women require a medical treatment (post-abortion care).6

 

Data sources

1WHO. Unsafe Abortion: Global and Regional Estimates of the Incidence of Unsafe Abortion and Associated Mortality in 2008, sixth ed. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2011.
2Ibid; Sedgh G et al. Induced abortion: incidence and trends worldwide from 1995 to 2008. Lancet, 2012, (forthcoming).
3WHO. Unsafe Abortion: Global and Regional Estimates of the Incidence of Unsafe Abortion and Associated Mortality in 2008, sixth ed. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2011; Shah I, Ahman E. Unsafe abortion in 2008: global and regional trends. Reproductive Health Matters 2010;(18(36)):80-101.
4WHO. Unsafe Abortion: Global and Regional Estimates of the Incidence of Unsafe Abortion and Associated Mortality in 2008, sixth ed. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2011.
WHO. Unsafe Abortion: Global and Regional Estimates of the Incidence of Unsafe Abortion and Associated Mortality in 2008, sixth ed. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2011; Shah I, Ahman E. Unsafe abortion in 2008: global and regional trends. Reproductive Health Matters 2010;(18(36)):80-101.
Guttmacher Institute. Facts on Investing in Family Planning and Maternal and Newborn Health - updated November 2010 using new maternal and neonatal mortality data. Guttmacher Institute, 2010