Abortion rates go down when countries make it legal: report

By Maggie Fox • March 20, 2018

Abortion rates have fallen over the past 25 years, even as more countries have made the procedure legal and easier to get, according to a new report released Tuesday.

Countries with the most restrictive abortion laws also have the highest rates of abortion, the study by the Guttmacher Institute found. Easier access to birth control drives down abortion rates, the report also finds.

The report finds about 56 million abortions occur every year — nearly 50 million of them in developing countries. About a quarter of all pregnancies end in abortion.

Because there are so many women of childbearing age, the number of abortions has gone up, but the rates per 1,000 women have fallen, the report found.

Switzerland had the lowest abortion rate at 5 per 1,000 women. The U.S. rate is 13 per 1,000 women, the same as Britain's, the report found. Colombia and Mexico had abortion rates of 34 per 1,000 women. Pakistan’s estimated abortion rate was the highest at 50 per 1,000 women.

"Abortions take place around the world, no matter the legal setting," the report reads. But, it adds, “Provision of abortion is safest where it has long been legal."

“Nonetheless, some countries with broadly liberal laws have increasingly added restrictions that chip away at access to legal procedures; these include the United States and several countries in the former Soviet Bloc or zone of influence.”

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