The headquarters of the World Health Organization are
In Latin America, most were classified as less safe, which the authors attribute to the transition from more risky, outdated abortion methods to women using misoprostol outside of a health care setting.
Dr. Lisa Haddad remembers the women's faces clearly. The distinction allows for a more nuanced understanding of the different circumstances of abortions among women who are unable to access safe abortions from a trained provider. Compared with countries with less restrictive abortion laws, those with highly restrictive abortion laws had a significantly higher proportion of unsafe abortions.
"Increased efforts are needed, especially in developing countries, to ensure access to safe abortions", concluded the authors, led by WHO physician Bela Ganatra, a reproductive-health expert.
"For the first time, we actually tried to determine the conditions under which abortions take place, how, who, where".
The vast majority of unsafe abortions in Africa were considered least safe and were associated with higher death rates.
The percentage of those abortions that were considered unsafe. Less than one in four abortions in Africa, excluding Southern Africa, were safe. The abortions are considered "unsafe" either because the woman was taking pills alone without proper advice, or was with a trained helper administering a surgical abortion using, at best, outdated methods. About 55 per cent of all abortions from 2010 to 2014 were conducted safely.
The information was collected from previous surveys and studies, bibliographic databases, and ministries of health or national statistical organizations.
For International Safe Abortion Day on Thursday, protests for safe and legal abortions are expected around the world.
They found that, in total, about 55.7 million abortions occurred annually worldwide between 2010 and 2014.
In the study, the authors classified abortion safety as safe, less safe and least safe.
Provision of safe, legal abortion is essential to fulfilling the global commitment to the Sustainable Development Goal of universal access to sexual and reproductive health (target 3.7).
The study finds that there are fewer abortions in places where abortion is safest, such as in northern Europe and northern America where women can get contraception easily.
The percentage of abortions that were safe in low-income countries.
Among developing regions, the proportion of abortions that were safe in Eastern Asia (including China) was similar to developed regions.
"I think that there's no question that unsafe abortion continues to be one of the leading causes of maternal mortality and morbidity, and importantly this is preventable", Dr Lisa Haddad, an obstetrician-gynaecologist who has worked at clinics in sub-Saharan Africa, told CNN.
"The paper did not examine country specific data, but other evidence shows that the same disparities exist within countries as well - between rural and urban, rich and poor", Ganatra said.
The number of "least safe" abortions. In these countries, 49.5% of abortions were unsafe.
In Latin America, only 1 in 4 abortions were safe, though the majority were categorized as "less safe", as it is increasingly common for women in the region to obtain and self-administer medicines like misoprostol outside of formal health systems.
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