Unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions

2 February 2012

A recent study in the Lancet by the Guttmacher Institute and the W.H.O shows that overall abortion rates have stalled, writes Mina Barling for the Drum.


Simultaneously unsafe abortion rates are increasing while contraceptive uptake is plateauing.

These findings have prompted some of the most critical debates in recent times, at the centre of which is ensuring that there is adequate investment in reproductive health services that have been proven to save women's lives. Such investments are in line with Australia's commitment to the UN Millennium Development Goal to improve maternal health.

However, a more troubling narrative emerging concerns the level of predictability in the research findings. The stalling contraceptive prevalence rate and rising unsafe abortion rate are, according to many, unsurprising. Despite real progress in scaling up access to contraception, 215 million women still want access to family planning, but cannot access it. An unprecedented increase in both young women of reproductive age wanting to avoid pregnancy and women in their late 30s and beyond (with already large family sizes) wanting no more children represent the face of many in this group.


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Mina Barling, 2012, Unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, Uncategorised, viewed 29 May 2016, <http://apo.org.au/node/27980>.

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