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After a period of substantial decline, the global abortion rate has stalled, according to new research from the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization (WHO). Between 1995 and 2003, the overall number of abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age (15–44 years) dropped from 35 to 29. According to the new study, the global abortion rate in 2008 was virtually unchanged, at 28 per 1,000. This plateau coincides with a slowdown, documented by the United Nations, in contraceptive uptake, which has been especially marked in developing countries. The researchers also found that nearly half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, and almost all unsafe abortions occur in the developing world.
Research from WHO shows that complications due to unsafe abortions continued to account for an estimated 13% of all maternal deaths worldwide in 2008; almost all of these deaths occurred in developing countries. Globally, unsafe abortions accounted for 220 deaths per 100,000 procedures in 2008, 350 times the rate associated with legal induced abortions in the United States (0.6 per 100,000). Unsafe abortions are also a significant cause of ill-health: Each year approximately 8.5 million women in developing countries experience abortion complications serious enough to require medical attention. Three million of them do not receive the needed care.
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