Countries with legal restrictions on abortion have recorded increase in abortion rate in comparison to counties where it is broadly legal.
This is revealed in a study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute on unintended pregnancy and abortion worldwide. The research which was produced in collaboration with the UNDP-UNFPA-UNICEF-WHO-World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP), was published in Lancet Global Health.
It was revealed that increase access to contraceptives have led to decline in unintended pregnancy.
In a release made available to the media, it was disclosed that, “In 2015–2019, there were 121 million unintended pregnancies annually, corresponding to a global rate of 64 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 49. This is a decline from 79 per 1,000 women in 1990–1994.
“But progress is not uniform. Women in the poorest countries were nearly three times as likely to face unintended pregnancies as those in the wealthiest countries, revealing major and persistent inequities in access to sexual and reproductive health care.
“Sixty one percent of unintended pregnancies (73.3 million) ended in abortion between 2015 and 2019, corresponding to a global rate of 39 per 1,000 women aged 15–49.Abortion rates and trends varied across regions. The most significant decline was in Europe and North America, where the abortion rate fell by 63% between the periods 1990–1994 and 2015–2019.
“The substantial declines in unintended pregnancies and in abortion rates in some regions of the world is welcome news, reflecting important gains in access to effective, safe, acceptable and affordable sexual and reproductive health services,” says Bela Ganatra, Head of Preventing Unsafe Abortion Unit and Scientist at HRP.
Over the same period, in countries with legal restrictions on the procedure, the abortion rate increased by 12%. However, in countries where it is broadly legal, there was a slight decline. Generally speaking, abortion rates were similar (40 and 36 per 1,000 women, respectively) in countries where abortion is broadly legal and in those where it is restricted – underscoring that women seek abortion when experiencing unintended pregnancy, regardless of its legal status.
“Imposing legal restrictions to prevent or impede access to abortion does not reduce the number of individuals seeking out those services, but it certainly does increase the risk of unnecessary physical and emotional harm, and may result in legal sanctions and financial hardship as well,” says Zara Ahmed, Associate Director of Federal Issues at Guttmacher.
Across countries of all income levels, those with restrictions on abortion also face substantially higher rates of unintended pregnancy, suggesting a broader lack of access to family planning and other essential reproductive health services than in other countries.