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Abortion Numbers Fall Worldwide
Date:10/12/2007

Rates were similar whether procedures were legal, illegal, survey also found

FRIDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- The number of induced abortions fell worldwide from almost 46 million in 1995 to less than 42 million 2003, a new survey finds.

About one in every five pregnancies ends in abortion, the global survey found, and the number of unsafe procedures has not declined.

The report, by researchers at the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization, also found that abortion rates were unaffected by whether or not the procedure was legal or not in a particular country.

"Abortion levels where it is illegal are just as high as where it is legal," said study co-author Gilda Sedgh, a senior researcher at the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit group focused on reproductive issues, based in New York City.

In fact, Sedgh said, "what is counterintuitive is that [abortion] rates are lowest where it is legal." She estimates that perhaps 90 percent of women worldwide will have an abortion at one time or another.

The survey results are published in the Oct. 13 issue of the journal The Lancet.

This is the second such survey ever done. The first, also a cooperative effort of the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization, was done in 1994-1995.

Data was gathered from government figures in areas where abortion is legal and by a variety of means, including private interviews with women, in areas where it is not legal, Sedgh said.

Overall, the survey estimated 41.6 million abortions a year are carried out globally, with only about 6.6 million of them performed in developed nations such as the United States. Some 92 percent of abortions were done by safe methods in developed countries, but just 45 percent performed in developing nations were deemed safe.

Globally, there were 31 abortions for every 100 live births in 2003, but those statistics va
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