Report finds almost half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe

The headquarters of the World Health Organization are

The headquarters of the World Health Organization are

28, an worldwide research group reports in a new paper with senior author Leontine Alkema at the University of Massachusetts Amherst that out of the 55.7 million abortions that are estimated to have occurred each year between 2010 and 2014, almost half (45.1%) were unsafe.

While working in Zambia, she saw many women with serious infections and suffering from heavy bleeding as a result of having an unsafe abortion.

For the new analysis, researchers looked at data from 182 countries and regions, then searched resources like PubMed in different nations and languages to pull data from population-based surveys on abortion care-seeking, surveys of health professionals and other national and regional data on abortion.

For an abortion to be considered safe, it had to be performed with a method recommended by World Health Organization that was appropriate to the pregnancy duration, and the person providing the abortion had to be properly trained. This means the procedure was performed by someone without training who used a unsafe method (including "insertion of foreign bodies" or "ingestion of caustic substances", according to the report).

Developing countries had a significantly higher proportion of unsafe abortions than developed countries (49.5 versus 12.5 percent).

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In countries with restrictive laws, 31.3% of abortions were considered least safe.

The percentage of abortions in North America that were considered safe.

Unsurprisingly, 87.5% all abortions in developed countries were safe. The country has legalized therapeutic abortion two months later, on September 14.

Meanwhile, 30.7% of all abortions (12.1 million) were put into the less safe category.

In Latin America, only 1 in 4 abortions were safe, though the majority were categorized as "less safe", as it is increasingly common for women in the region to obtain and self-administer medicines like misoprostol outside of formal health systems.

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Overall, nearly all abortions in developed countries were deemed safe, whereas roughly half of those in developing countries were safe, according to the findings.

The researchers cautioned that reliable abortion data are hard to obtain, especially in places where it is illegal or otherwise stigmatized.

The authors categorized the procedures into three categories: safe, less safe, and least safe. But many women are using it in circumstances the researchers consider " less safe". In developed countries, 12.5% of abortions were unsafe.

To prevent unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions, countries must make supportive policies and financial commitments to provide comprehensive sexuality education; a wide range of contraceptive methods, including emergency contraception; accurate family planning counselling; and access to safe, legal abortion. Similarly, it can be extremely hard for doctors to distinguish between complications caused by miscarriage and induced abortion.

The study called for less restrictive laws on abortions as this will go a long way in saving women's lives and also encourage women who have to perform the act seek the help of trained officers. This law, known as the Global Gag Rule, forbids the US's federal funds from going towards any organisation that so much as mentions "abortion" in its documents.

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