A sweeping new study from the Guttmacher Institute has found an interesting wrinkle for anti-abortion advocates. Countries with the most restrictive abortion laws tend to have roughly the same number of abortions as countries with looser laws. The study found that the abortion rate is 37 per 1,000 women in countries that prohibit or nearly prohibit all abortion, and 35 per 1,000 in countries that have no restrictions on abortion. The study’s authors say this difference is not statistically significant, contrary to this NBC report.
The actual number of abortions is on the rise globally, but the number of abortions per capita is lowering—fewer women per thousand are getting abortions. In 1990-1994, the global abortion rate was about 40 per 1,000 women. By 2000-2014, that number has dropped to 35 per 1,000. There are about 56 million abortions across the world every year, the overwhelming majority of which take place in developing nations.
Switzerland has the world’s lowest abortion rate, with only five per 1,000 women. The U.S. and Britain have about 13 abortions per 1,000 women, and rates are at their highest in the Caribbean and in countries like Pakistan, where the rate stands at nearly 50 per 1,000 women.
The study did find that abortions tend to be safer for the mothers in countries where it is broadly legal, as opposed to countries where it is not. “Improved contraceptive use, and in turn, declines in unintended pregnancy rates are the likely driver behind the worldwide decline in abortion rates,” Susheela Singh, vice president for international research at the Guttmacher Institute, said.