The number of women having unsafe abortions outside clinical settings is on the rise, according to a new report from the World Health Organization, published in the Lancet. While the overall global abortion rate has held steady at about 28 per 1,000 women, the percentage performed without trained medical help has risen from 44% in 1995 to 49% in 2008.
The problem is particularly pronounced in Africa and Latin America, where a whopping 97% and 95% of abortions, respectively, are considered unsafe. In Europe, by contrast, only 9% of abortions were unsafe, and almost all of those were in Eastern Europe. Overall, the percentages of pregnancies ending in abortions fell, from 36% to 26%. But there was no correlation between more restrictive abortion laws and the number of abortions performed; indeed, the abortion rate was actually lower in regions with more liberal laws. (Read more World Health Organization stories.)