A new report from the Guttmacher Institute released this week found that, worldwide, legal restrictions on abortion have no effect on the rate of abortions, but that these restrictions force women to seek illegal abortions and put themselves at risk. An estimated 70,000 women die each year from unsafe and largely illegal abortions, according to the BBC.
The study, Abortion Worldwide: A Decade of Uneven Progress, found that the overall rate of abortions has decreased worldwide, largely due to increased access to contraception. However, the reduction in abortion rates is primarily in regards to legal abortions and the rate of illegal and presumably unsafe abortions has declined very little. This disparity is especially prevalent in countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, which have some of the most restrictive abortion and contraception laws.
To close the gap, the report recommends that countries “expand access to modern contraceptives and improve family planning, expand access to legal abortion and ensure that safe and legal abortion services are available to women in need,” and “improve the coverage and quality of post-abortion care, which would reduce maternal death and complications from unsafe abortion.”