A report released Wednesday from the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute found that roughly more than 25 million unsafe abortions are performed each year worldwide.
The report, published in academic journal The Lancet, found that of the estimated 56 million abortions performed annually, nearly half are unsafe. Examining abortions performed between 2010 and 2014 in 182 countries and regions, the report indicated that 97% of unsafe abortions took place in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
While 88% of abortions performed in developed nations were safe, experts said that there is still work to be done to make all abortions safe.
The report defined safe abortions as ones performed by trained individuals using recommended methods, less-safe abortions as ones done with trained providers using outdated methods or even a safe method performed by an untrained person, and unsafe abortions as ones performed by untrained individuals using dangerous methods.
"Nearly half of abortions in the world are unsafe," Bela Ganatra, MD, one of the report's authors, told Reuters. "And that is surprising because safe abortion is a simple intervention, scientifically speaking."
Dr. Ganatra added, "There is an association between highly restrictive laws and unsafe abortion."
Earlier this year, Donald Trump reinstated the global "gag rule," which blocks federal aid to foreign organizations that provide abortions or even abortion counseling. Since then, several states have been emboldened to push anti-abortion laws — most recently, House Republicans announced plans to vote on a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks nationwide.
Dr. Ganatra told STAT News that public policy, medical training, and health care access are all factors to consider when it comes to working towards curbing unsafe abortions.
"When women and girls cannot access effective contraception and safe abortion services, there are serious consequences for their own health and that of their families," Dr. Ganatra said in a statement. "This should not happen. But despite recent advances in technology and evidence, too many unsafe abortions still occur, and too many women continue to suffer and die."
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