New Paper Finds Global Abortion Rate Stalling

The Economist's daily chart yesterday focused on a recent paper from The Lancet that "estimate[s] the number of safe and unsafe abortions in 2008." Because some countries under-report abortions, tracking them is not a simple task. Perhaps for this reason, the number of safe and unsafe abortions worldwide has only been successfully tracked twice before, in 1995 and 2003. When the 2008 data is compared with these other data points, changes corroborate findings from the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute that indicate "that the global abortion rate has stalled."
The Economist writes of the abortion rate: "It fell precipitously in the 1990s, but recently the rate has not budged, barely dipping from 29 abortions per 1,000 women (aged 15 to 44) in 2003 to 28 abortions per 1,000 women in 2008." During this interval of time, the "geography of abortions has also shifted. In 2008, 86% of abortions were in the developing world, up from 78% in 1995. The share of unsafe abortions rose as well, from 44% in 1995 to 49% in 2008." Currently, "Eastern Europe has the highest abortion rate in the world, at 43 per 1,000."

Interestingly, the level of legal restriction on abortions does not appear to limit their frequency. The Economist notes, "Laws that restrict abortion did not seem to lower the number of procedures. On the contrary, restrictive laws were associated with higher rates."
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