New findings explore global abortion incidence rates

May 2016

An article published in the Lancet shows that abortion rates declined significantly in the developed world between 1990 and 2014, while remaining largely unchanged in developing regions. Ibis’s Dr. Caitlin Gerdts partnered with the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization on a study estimating subregional, regional, and global levels and trends in abortion incidence during this time period. Researchers found that the worldwide abortion rate dropped slightly from 1990 to 2014, largely due to the decline in abortion rates in developed countries. The study also found no significant difference in abortion rates between countries where abortion is legal and where it is restricted, though restrictive laws in developing countries are likely associated with an increase in unsafe abortion.

These estimates provide critical data on worldwide abortion trends, as well as insights into the impacts of factors like contraceptive access, abortion restrictions, and family planning services. "This new effort to estimate global abortion incidence represents an innovative approach to understand an outcome that is inherently challenging to measure. The examination of abortion incidence and trends is a crucial component of efforts to understand the effects of particular policies and contexts on access to reproductive health services" said Dr. Gerdts, an author on the study.