Report Finds No Link Between Restrictive Abortion Laws And Lower Abortion Rates

Highly restrictive abortion laws do not lead to lower abortion rates, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute. Globally, nations that have more restrictive abortion laws, like in Latin American and Africa, also see a higher number of unsafe abortions and deaths because of the unsafe procedures.

The chart below compares regional abortion rates to abortion policies and shows that women living under Western Europe’s liberal laws undergo fewer abortions than those in more restrictive countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia:

Additionally, while the worldwide abortion rate has dropped between 1995 and 2003, it stalled between 2003 and 2008. And nearly half of all abortions are unsafe. And the proportion of abortions that take place in the developing world, where 56 percent of unsafe abortions take place, increased between 1995 and 2008, from 78 percent to 86 percent because of the population growth in these countries.

Gilda Sedgh, a senior research associate that the Guttmacher Institute, said the increase was “cause for concern.” “The long-term decline in global abortion rates has stalled, at the same time that abortions are becoming concentrated in developing countries,” Sedgh said in a statement. “This plateau coincides with a slowdown in contraceptive uptake. Without greater investment in quality family planning services, we can expect the plateau to persist.” An estimated 47,000 women die from unsafe abortions each year, making up 13 percent of maternal deaths.


Despite these findings, the GOP presidential candidates pledged to restrict women’s access to both abortions and contraception during a pro-life presidential forum last night. Frontrunner Mitt Romney, who was not at the forum, has flirted with supporting a “personhood amendment” and has promised to adopt policies that restrict the availability of abortion coverage