Sexual and reproductive health

Unsafe abortion incidence and mortality - Global and regional levels in 2008 and trends

Information sheet

UNDP/UNFPA/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP)

Front cover

Publication details

Number of pages: 8
Publication date: 2012
Languages: English
WHO reference number: WHO/RHR/12.01


Unsafe abortion is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a procedure for terminating an unintended pregnancy carried out either by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards, or both.

When women want to limit or postpone childbearing, but contraception is not used or used ineffectively or they are forced into nonconsensual sex, unintended pregnancies occur: some are terminated by induced abortions while others result in unwanted births. Where abortion laws are restricted or safe abortion services are not widely accessible or are of poor quality, women resort to unskilled providers, risking serious consequences to their health and well-being.