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The 'deeply disturbing' rise in unsafe abortions: By the numbers
About half of the world's abortions are performed illegally, resulting in dangerous complications and sometimes death
 
The number of dangerous abortions occurring worldwide are increasing, with the majority in Eastern Europe, and Middle and Eastern Africa.
The number of dangerous abortions occurring worldwide are increasing, with the majority in Eastern Europe, and Middle and Eastern Africa.
Silvia Morara/Corbis

The number of women having unsafe abortions is on the rise, according to a report from the World Health Organization. While the global abortion rate has held steady for most of the past decade, researchers found that countries where the procedure is illegal had much higher rates of women dying from complications. Some women in Africa, for instance, resort to using broken soda bottles or consuming dangerous doses of medicine. "An abortion is actually a very simple and safe procedure," says Gilda Sedgh, the study's lead author. "All of these deaths and complications are easily avoidable." Here's a look at this "deeply disturbing" trend, by the numbers:

43.8 million
Abortions performed worldwide between 2003 and 2008 

86
Percentage of worldwide abortions in 2008 that took place in developing countries

1 in 5
Pregnancies that ended in abortion in 2008

49
Percentage of worldwide abortions classified as "unsafe" in 2008

44
Percentage of worldwide abortions classified as "unsafe" in 1995

47,000
Women who died from unsafe abortions in 2008

13 
Percentage of maternal deaths worldwide blamed on unsafe abortions

8.5 million
Women who had serious medical complications from unsafe abortions in 2008

28 per 1,000
Abortion rate for women aged 15 to 44 from 2003 to 2008, a period during which the rate remained virtually unchanged

12 per 1,000
Abortion rate for Western Europe — the study's lowest

43 per 1,000
Abortion rate for Eastern Europe — the study's highest

38 and 36 per 1,000
Abortion rates for Middle and Eastern Africa, respectively

19 per 1,000
Abortion rate in North America

95 to 97
Percentage of abortions in Latin America and Africa classified as "back-street" abortions. Legal restrictions making such procedures more common were "surprisingly associated with higher abortion rates."

Sources: Associated Press, CNNThe Grio, Lancet

 

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