161142 Updated estimates of the incidence of abortion worldwide

Tuesday, November 6, 2007: 4:30 PM

Gilda Sedgh, ScD , Research, Guttmacher Institute, New York, NY
Stanley K. Henshaw, PhD , Research, Guttmacher Institute, New York, NY
Susheela Singh, PhD , The Guttmacher Institute, New York, NY
Iqbal Shah, PhD , Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization, Geneva 27, Switzerland
Elizabeth Aahman , Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization, Geneva 27, Switzerland
Akinrinola Bankole, PhD , Research, Guttmacher Institute, New York, NY
Reliable information on abortion levels and trends worldwide, and on regional variations in incidence, are important in light of the implications for family planning programs and policies and because it can influence the discourse around abortion laws and policies. Moreover, these findings can inform estimates of the economic and health burdens of unsafe abortion. Accurate information on abortion incidence is, however, very difficult to obtain.

Although official abortion statistics are generally collected in countries in which abortion is legal under broad criteria, these statistics are sometimes incomplete or lacking. In countries where abortion law is highly restrictive, official statistics are not available. We draw on a variety of data sources and methods of estimation to develop the best possible measures of the number of induced abortions that occur annually worldwide and in each major region of the world, building on a methodology developed by the World Health Organization. We also estimate the abortion rate and the percent of all pregnancies that end in abortion. We assess abortion levels by region, the proportion of all abortions that occur outside the law, the levels of abortion in developed and developing countries, and trends in all these categories of abortion.

The estimated number of abortions worldwide and the abortion rate for 2003 are lower than those estimated for 1995, but the trends vary significantly across regions. About 1 in 10 pregnancies ends in abortion. We present results in greater detail and discuss possible explanations for the observed levels and trends.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the major trends in abortion worldwide. 2. Discuss the major factors that have contributed to the declines in abortions worldwide and to the regional variations in abortion trends and incidence; 3. Articulate the public policy implications of the patterns in abortion trends and incidence.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.