Ganatra said that she hopes researchers will do a better job studying how women actually have abortions around the world, which is hard because it tends to be stigmatized and because so many abortions happen outside of health systems.
"This is a public health priority and I don't think it's been placed on that level and given the attention that it needs", said Haddad, associate professor in the department of gynecology and obstetrics at Emory University School of Medicine. According to the authors, these regions "have less restrictive laws on abortion, high contraceptive use, high economic development, high levels of gender equality, and well-developed health infrastructures".
"Even though it's hard to measure and estimate something like abortion where data is limited, trying to get a handle at least of figuring out what the burden of unsafe abortion might be is important to begin to address the problem", study author Dr. Bela Ganatra, a scientist at the WHO's Department of Reproductive Health and Research, told CBS News.
"For the first time, we actually tried to determine the conditions under which abortions take place, how, who, where". They concluded that both the number of abortions and the number of unsafe abortions have gone up. This is down to unsafe abortion methods. Less than one in four abortions in Africa, excluding Southern Africa, were safe. "Less-safe" abortions, it said, are those performed by a trained provider but with an outdated method, or a safe method performed by an untrained provider.
Analyzing records for abortion globally, the research team deemed 55 percent of all terminations between 2010 and 2014 "safe".
The information was collected from previous surveys and studies, bibliographic databases, and ministries of health or national statistical organizations. For the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion, people gathered and rallied in Toulouse, France, for the right of choice to abort as elsewhere in Europe. "Complications from "least-safe" abortions can include incomplete abortion (failure to remove all of the pregnancy tissue from the uterus), haemorrhage, vaginal, cervical and uterine injury, and infections", the study stated.
The countries with the highest rates of unsafe abortions were also the countries that had the most restrictive laws regarding abortion. In North America, an estimated 1 percent of abortions were less safe. "It is also important to note that women undergoing abortions in Africa had the highest risk of dying from a least safe abortion".More news: Pixel 2 XL Features Stereo Speakers, Music Recognition and Portrait Mode
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The proportion of abortions that were safe in Eastern Asia, including China, was similar to developed regions.
"Whatever the accuracy of these figures, every abortion is a tragedy, and of course by definition a procedure which seeks the death of one party involved is always going to be "unsafe".
"The paper did not examine country specific data, but other evidence shows that the same disparities exist within countries as well - between rural and urban, rich and poor", Ganatra said.
The authors categorized the procedures into three categories: safe, less safe, and least safe.
US President Donald Trump has reinstated a policy that requires foreign NGOs that receive US global family planning funds to certify that they do not perform abortions or provide abortion advice as a method of family planning. Without legal access to abortions, women are too often left without the option of safety.