Abortion Worldwide 2017: Uneven Progress and Unequal Access

Posted by Maria Codina on March 27, 2018 at 9:20 am

Published in 2018, Abortion Worldwide: Uneven Progress and Unequal Access provides the most current information on the incidence of abortion and unintended pregnancy worldwide, as well as trends since 1990, as women and couples increasingly want smaller families. It examines laws that regulate abortion and how they have evolved, and the current safety of abortion provision. It documents the barriers women face to preventing unintended pregnancies and obtaining safe abortions, and the impacts of unsafe abortion on women’s well-being. This study provides a comprehensive update to findings from the 2009 Abortion Worldwide: A Decade of Uneven Progress.


Induced abortion is common across the globe. The vast majority of abortions occur in response to unintended pregnancies, which typically result from ineffective use or nonuse of contraceptives. Other factors are also important drivers of unintended pregnancy and the decision to have an abortion. Some unintended pregnancies result from rape and incest. Other pregnancies become unwanted after changes in life circumstances or because taking a pregnancy to term would have negative consequences on the woman’s health and well-being. As a result, abortion continues to be part of how women and couples in all contexts manage their fertility and their lives, regardless of the laws in their country. Thus, safe abortion services will always be needed.

Substantial gaps in knowledge about abortion remain, however. To fill such gaps, researchers are developing and applying innovative approaches to better document the incidence of abortion and to better understand its causes, conditions and consequences. This report draws on this growing evidence base to examine the current state of abortion across legal settings and socioeconomic contexts, and considers abortion in light of factors known to influence its safety and incidence. By providing a comprehensive overview of key aspects of abortion—incidence, legal status, service provision and safety—and how they have changed in recent years, the report aims to inform future policies and programs.

Read the ‘Abortion Worldwide 2017: Uneven Progress and Unequal Access’.