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Abortions Worldwide Decline, Unsafe Abortions Kill 70,000 Women Annually, Report Says

Fewer abortions are taking place worldwide because of increased contraceptive use, a study by the Guttmacher Institute has found, Reuters reports. The study also indicates that 20 million “unsafe abortions, mostly in poorer countries and often carried out by the women themselves using inappropriate drugs or herbal potions, or by untrained traditional healers,” still occur each year and kill 70,000 women annually (Kelland, 10/13).

Between 1995 and 2003, the annual number of abortions decreased from an estimated 45.5 million to 41.6 million, according to the report. Each year, 5 million women were treated for abortion-related complications and another 3 million women who had complications did not receive treatment, the study said, Agence France-Presse reports (10/13).

“The researchers said 40 percent of women still live in nations where abortion is highly restricted, and called for greater effort to improve access to contraception to prevent some of an estimated 76 million unwanted pregnancies each year,” Reuters writes. According to the study, unsafe abortions result in an estimated $500 million in healthcare costs in developing countries (10/13).

In the report, the institute, “which supports abortion rights and is a leading source of data on abortion-related trends,” calls for “easing of developing nations’ abortion laws,” the Associated Press/Dallas Morning News writes. About 38,000 deaths – or more than half of all deaths from abortion – occur in sub-Saharan Africa, which was “singled out as the region with by far the lowest rates of contraceptive use and the highest rates of unintended pregnancies,” the AP/Dallas Morning News writes (10/14).

The report also calls for improved access to and quality of post-abortion care (Guttmacher Institute release, 10/13).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.