Maternal Health Task Force

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Unintended Pregnancy Estimates

Earlier this months, estimates of unsafe abortions were published in Reproductive Health Matters. A related paper in Studies in Family Planning written by researchers from the Guttmacher Institute estimates rates of unintended pregnancies in various regions.

According to the authors:

Unintended pregnancy can carry serious consequences for women and their families. We estimate the incidence of pregnancy by intention status and outcome at worldwide, regional, and subregional levels for 2008, and we assess recent trends since 1995. Numbers of births are based on United Nations estimates. Induced abortions are estimated by projecting from recent trends. A model-based approach is used to estimate miscarriages. The planning status of births is estimated using nationally representative and small-scale surveys of 80 countries. Of the 208 million pregnancies that occurred in 2008, we estimate that 41 percent were unintended.

The authors estimate 86 million unintended pregnancies resulting in approximately 41 million abortions worldwide, roughly 35 million of which took place in “less developed regions.” Given the relatively high rate of unsafe abortion leading to maternal morbidity and mortality in developing countries, a move towards further reducing unintended pregnancies could greatly improve the health outcomes for women in the developing world by decreasing the number of unsafe abortions.

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