Almost half of all abortions done around the world each year are “unsafe” for women, a study published Wednesday found.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Guttmacher Institute partnered up to look into safe and unsafe abortions performed around the world between 2010-2014, CNN reported Wednesday.
Out of the 55.7 million abortions done in 61 countries between 2010 and 2014, 25.1 million of those abortions were considered “unsafe,” researchers found. A break-up of the data shows that 17.1 million of those 25.1 million were labeled as “less safe,” while 8 million were classified as “least safe,” the study revealed.
The WHO classifies an “unsafe abortion” as one that is not done by doctor with the proper skills or an abortion that is done in an area that does not at least meet the bare minimum in health standards or a combination of the two.
Most developed nations had safe abortions, while developing countries had higher rates of unsafe abortions, the study noted. In the developing countries, 49.5 percent of abortions were unsafe while only 12.5 percent of abortions in developed countries were considered to be unsafe.
“While both Africa and Latin America had low proportions of abortions that were carried out in safe conditions, it was striking to note that among the unsafe abortions, the vast majority in the Latin America region were performed under less safe conditions (59.7 percent) while in Africa the majority of unsafe abortions were performed under the least safe conditions (48 percent),” Bela Ganatra, an author with the study, said, according to CNN. “It is also important to note that women undergoing abortions in Africa had the highest risk of dying from a least safe abortion.”
Abortions performed in the unsafe conditions, according to the WHO, carry a risk of complications for women, such as heavy bleeding, incomplete abortions and harm to internal organs or genitals.
“Increasing the availability, accessibility and affordability of contraception can reduce the incidence of unintended pregnancies, and therefore abortions,” Ganatra said in a statement to Reuters.
Gathering dependable abortion data can be tricky, the researchers also noted, especially in countries where abortion is illegal. This could mean that the rates of unsafe abortions are potentially higher than the study suggests.
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