Abortion rates 'falling in developed countries'

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

Abortion rates have reached an historic low level in developed nations, according to a new study from the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The figures show that between 1990 and 2014, the developed world's annual abortion rate per 1,000 women of childbearing age dropped from 46 to 27, mainly as a result of the rate in Eastern Europe more than halving during this period.

“A new global study have shown a fall in abortion rates in developed nations where contraceptives are freely accessible, although rates remain high in poorer nations.“

However, in the developing world the abortion rate has remained virtually unchanged, declining only marginally from 39 to 37. Worldwide, 56 million abortions took place each year on average in 2010-14.

The convenient availability of contraception in developed nations is playing a key role in bringing down abortion rates there. Better access to modern contraception such as hormonal pill, implants and IUDs could help to reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions in poorer countries.

This is particularly important as it was shown that in many developing countries where abortion is strongly legally restricted and often performed under unsafe conditions, the incidence of abortion is estimated to be just as high as in countries where it is legal.

Study co-author Dr Bela Ganatra, a scientist from the WHO, said: "The high rates of abortion seen in our study also provide further evidence of the need to improve and expand access to effective contraceptive services."

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