The incidence and reasons for induced abortion vary regionally. Some countries, such as Belgium (11.2 per 1000 known pregnancies) and the Netherlands (10.6 per 1000), had a comparatively low rate of induced abortion, while others like Russia (62.6 per 1000) and Vietnam (43.7 per 1000) had a high rate. The world ratio was 26 induced abortions per 1000 known pregnancies (excluding miscarriages and stillbirths).
By gestational age and methodAbortion rates also vary depending on the stage of pregnancy and the method practiced. In 2003, from data collected in those areas of the United States that sufficiently reported gestational age, it was found that 88.2% of abortions were conducted at or prior to 12 weeks, 10.4% from 13 to 20 weeks, and 1.4% at or after 21 weeks. 90.9% of these were classified as having been done by "curettage" (suction-aspiration, Dilation and curettage, Dilation and evacuation), 7.7% by "medical" means (mifepristone), 0.4% by "intrauterine instillation" (saline or prostaglandin), and 1.0% by "other" (including hysterotomy and hysterectomy). The Guttmacher Institute estimated there were 2,200 intact dilation and extraction procedures in the U.S. during 2000; this accounts for 0.17% of the total number of abortions performed that year. Similarly, in England and Wales in 2006, 89% of terminations occurred at or under 12 weeks, 9% between 13 to 19 weeks, and 1.5% at or over 20 weeks. 64% of those reported were by vacuum aspiration, 6% by D&E, and 30% were medical. Later abortions are more common in China, India, and other developing countries than in developed countries.
By personal and social factors
A 1998 aggregated study, from 27 countries, on the reasons women seek to terminate their pregnancies concluded that common factors cited to have influenced the abortion decision were: desire to delay or end childbearing, concern over the interruption of work or education, issues of financial or relationship stability, and perceived immaturity. A 2004 study in which American women at clinics answered a questionnaire yielded similar results. In Finland and the United States, concern for the health risks posed by pregnancy in individual cases was not a factor commonly given; however, in Bangladesh, India, and Kenya health concerns were cited by women more frequently as reasons for having an abortion. 1% of women in the 2004 survey-based U.S. study became pregnant as a result of rape and 0.5% as a result of incest. Another American study in 2002 concluded that 54% of women who had an abortion were using a form of contraception at the time of becoming pregnant while 46% were not. Inconsistent use was reported by 49% of those using condoms and 76% of those using the combined oral contraceptive pill; 42% of those using condoms reported failure through slipping or breakage. The Guttmacher Institute estimated that "most abortions in the United States are obtained by minority women" because minority women "have much higher rates of unintended pregnancy."
Some abortions are undergone as the result of societal pressures. These might include the stigmatization of disabled people, preference for children of a specific sex, disapproval of single motherhood, insufficient economic support for families, lack of access to or rejection of contraceptive methods, or efforts toward population control (such as China's one-child policy). These factors can sometimes result in compulsory abortion or sex-selective abortion.
Women seeking to terminate their pregnancies sometimes resort to unsafe methods, particularly where and when access to legal abortion is restricted. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines an unsafe abortion as being "a procedure ... carried out by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards, or both." Unsafe abortions are sometimes known colloquially as "back-alley" abortions. They may be performed by the woman herself, another person without medical training, or a professional health provider operating in sub-standard conditions. Unsafe abortion remains a public health concern due to the higher incidence and severity of its associated complications, such as incomplete abortion, sepsis, hemorrhage, and damage to internal organs. It is estimated that 20 million unsafe abortions occur around the world annually and that 70,000 of these result in the woman's death. Complications of unsafe abortion are said to account, globally, for approximately 13% of all maternal mortalities, with regional estimates including 12% in Asia, 25% in Latin America, and 13% in sub-Saharan Africa. Although the global rate of abortion declined from 45.6 million in 1995 to 41.6 million in 2003, unsafe procedures still accounted for 48% of all abortions performed in 2003.
Health education, access to family planning, and improvements in health care during and after abortion have been proposed to address this phenomenon.
Adapted from the Wikipedia article Abortion, under the G. N. U. Free Documentation License. Please also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki