Wednesday marks International Safe Abortion Day. Every year on this day, September 28, women’s health advocates from around the world unite in support of ensuring universal access to safe abortion care and the repeal of laws that criminalize abortion. This global day of action began in Latin America over a quarter-century ago in response to the countless deaths and injuries resulting from clandestine abortion procedures in the region, a reality still faced by millions of women today throughout the world.

Abortion is common. Globally, an estimated 56 million abortions took place each year between 2010 and 2014, which translates to one in four pregnancies ending in abortion.

A recent study, Abortion Incidence Between 1990 and 2014: Global, Regional, and Subregional Levels and Trends, conducted jointly by the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization, found that most developed regions have seen a marked decline in the rate of abortion, dropping over a 25-year period from 46 to 27 per every 1,000 women of childbearing age. This downward trend suggests that women and couples in developed countries have become more successful at avoiding unintended pregnancies, a welcome development.

But the study also reveals uncomfortable truths about the situation elsewhere.

In developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean, the overall rate of abortion has barely changed over the same time period, dropping only slightly from 39 to 37 per every 1,000 women.

What is behind these figures and what must we do about it?



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