News

Home > News > Abortion laws and other reproductive rights policies and data around the world

Abortion laws and other reproductive rights policies and data around the world

A review of state population policies and laws concludes that, between 1996 and 2013, the percentage of governments permitting abortion increased gradually for all legal grounds, except to save a woman’s life which remained at 97%. However, policies remain restrictive in many countries. Only about one-third of countries permitted abortion for economic or social reasons or on request. Governments in developed regions were more than four times as likely to permit abortion for economic or social regions (80%) as those in developing regions (18%). Out of 145 countries with available data in 2012, governments of 87 countries (60%) had implemented concrete measures to improve access to safe abortion services in the past five years. A growing number of governments have adopted policies to raise fertility rates, rising from 14% in 1996 to 27% in 2013. Governments have increasingly adopted policies to reduce adolescent birth rates, increasing from 60% in 1996 to 90% in 2013. Fertility rates are significantly higher in countries with restrictive abortion policies, with an adolescent birth rate in countries with restrictive abortion policies at around three times greater (69 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 years) than in countries with liberal abortion policies (24 births). Countries with restrictive abortion policies have much higher unsafe abortion rates than those with liberal policies (26.7 compared with 6.1 unsafe abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years) and higher levels of maternal mortality (223 compared with 77 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births). [1] The report is accompanied by a fact sheet [2] and wall chart with 2014 information on government policies on reproductive health issues, including fertility, family planning, abortion and maternal mortality, government measures on increased access to sexual and reproductive health services, on child and forced marriages, and the latest estimates of adolescent and total fertility, unmet need for family planning, maternal mortality ratio, and other selected indicators. [3]

 

1. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Abortion policies and reproductive health around the world, 2014. http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/policy/AbortionPoliciesReproductiveHealth.pdf  

 

2. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Population Facts, August 2014. http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/popfacts/PopFacts_2014-1.pdf  


3. United Nations, Deparment of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Reproductive health policies 2014 wall chart, 2014.