Gilda Sedgh

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    Characteristics of women who obtain legal abortions across countries

    Gilda Sedgh, Akinrinola Bankole, Susheela Singh, Anna Popinchalk Guttmacher Institute, New York, NY, USA - gsedgh@guttmacher.org

    Context: Abortion levels may differ between subgroups of women because of variations in the level of unintended pregnancy and in the likelihood that women will choose to terminate their pregnancies if they become pregnant unintentionally. Understanding differentials in levels of abortion according to women's characteristics can shed light on the circumstances surrounding the reasons leading to abortion. Methods: Data from government statistics on characteristics of women who obtain legal abortions were obtained from countries where legal abortion is generally available and reliable abortion statistics are compiled. We compute the percentage distributions of abortions and abortion rates by selected characteristics of women, particularly age, marital status and parity. For a few countries, we present the proportion of abortions that are obtained by immigrants from other countries. Since the adolescent years are a particularly vulnerable period for many females, we highlight adolescent abortion rates and the proportion of pregnancies among adolescents that end in abortion across countries. Results: In general, abortion rates are higher among 20-24 year olds than any other age group. In most countries with reliable evidence, married women obtain a larger proportion of abortions than unmarried women. More than half of abortions are obtained by women with at least one child. Although adolescents account for a high proportion of abortions in some countries, they do not obtain a disproportionate share of procedures. The proportion of teen pregnancies that end in abortion varies widely across countries, even among countries with liberal abortion laws. Conclusions: Abortion rates vary across socio-demographic subgroups of women. However, within all subgroups examined here, some women will obtain an abortion when faced with an unintended pregnancy.

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    Abortion incidence between 1990 and 2014: global, regional, and subregional levels and trends

    Gilda Sedgh

    Guttmacher Institute, New York, USA

    Information about the incidence of induced abortion is needed to motivate and inform efforts to help women avoid unintended pregnancies and to monitor progress toward that end. We estimated subregional, regional, and global levels and trends in abortion incidence for 1990 to 2014 and abortion rates in subgroups of women. Estimates were made using abortion data compiled from government agencies, nationally representative studies and a Bayesian hierarchical time series model. We estimated that, on average, 56 million (90% UI 52·4 to 70·0) abortions took place each year in 2010- 2014, for an annual abortion rate of 35 (90% UI 33 to 44) per 1000 women aged 15-44 years. Estimates of abortion trends globally and across subregions will be presented. We also used the results to estimate the proportion of pregnancies that end in abortion and examine whether abortion rates vary in countries grouped by the legal status of abortion.