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Abortion Rates Drop in First-World Nations, But Only Slightly in Poorer Countries

May 13, 2016 04:02 AM EDT
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Abortion cases are decreasing dramatically in wealthy countries. But is the same in third-world nations?
(Photo : Greyerbaby/Pixabay)

Amidst the ever growing concerns about reproductive rights, a new study shows that abortion rates in developed countries have actually dropped to its lowest so far in history. The decrease is attributed to the improved access to birth control options in these countries.

Though the numbers have dipped incredibly in wealthier nations, there isn't a significant change in the figures of poor and developing countries where the vast majority of women live.

The study, which was published in The Lancet, was conducted by Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit organization promoting reproductive health, and the World Health Organization, provides an analysis of abortion incidents around the world.

After studying data from 92 countries, the researchers found that between 1990 and 2014, abortion rates have declined from an average of 40 per 1,000 women of childbearing age to 35. The US records one of the lowest rates globally, at 17 per 1,000 women only.

For developing countries, researchers note a decline from 39 to 37 per 1,000 women, but they say that this slight decrease is insignificant.

Researchers suggest that the difference is largely attributed to the disparity in the access to birth control options like pills and IUDs. "More women living in countries with the most restrictive abortion laws have an unmet need for contraception-that is, they want to avoid getting pregnant but are not using a method of family planning-than women in countries with more liberal laws," said Gilda Sedgh, the study's lead author. "This adds to the incidence of abortion in countries with restrictive laws."

Easter Europe has recorded the biggest drop in abortion rates over the last 25 years, from 88 in 1990-94 to 42 per 1,000 women in 2010-14. Europe and North America also saw significant decline in their rates.

Abortion rates in Africa where majority of abortions are illegal, remains steady at 34 abortions per 1,000 women in 2014 compared to 33 in1990 to 1994.

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