It is estimated that there are 44 million induced abortions annually, half of them in countries where abortion is illegal. However, the exact number of abortions cannot be determined because of underreporting. The abortion rate in developed countries is 24 per 1000, and in developing countries, the estimate is higher at 29.
Trends show that the number of abortions in the developed world is decreasing while in developing countries, it is steadily increasing. A major concern is that half of the abortions in these countries are unsafe. The complications from unsafe abortions account for nearly 13% of worldwide maternal deaths annually. The highest number of abortion related deaths is in Africa.
The higher rate of abortions in developing countries is attributed to the limited availability and acceptance of family planning and contraception. Poor access to contraceptive methods increases the incidence of unwanted pregnancies and abortion. In developing countries, around 80% of women who have unplanned pregnancies have limited or no access to contraception. In countries where family planning programs are reinforced with contraceptive counseling and supplies, there are fewer unintended pregnancies and abortions.
The rate of abortion in developed countries decreases progressively with age, as opposed to developing countries where ratios increase with age. Worldwide, abortion is more common among unmarried women. The likelihood of abortion increases in women of lower socioeconomic status.
In the United States, abortion rates are relatively higher among racial minorities and Hispanic women. It is estimated that about 49% of pregnancies in the US are unintended, and 43% of these end up in abortion.
The most common reasons for wanting abortions include interference with work or school, lack of finances, single parenthood, and health reasons, including fear of a possible defect in the fetus. Pregnancies borne of rape or incest account for 1% of all abortions.
1) Henshaw, S, Glob. libr. women's med.,
(ISSN: 1756-2228) 2014; DOI 10.3843/GLOWM.10437. http://www.glowm.com/section_view/heading/Induced%20Abortion:%20Epidemiologic%20Aspects/item/436
2) WHO: Facts on induced abortion worldwide. http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/unsafeabortion/inducedabortion_2012.pdf?ua=1