Abortion is a common health intervention. It is safe when carried out using a method recommended by WHO, appropriate to the pregnancy duration and by someone with the necessary skills.
Six out of 10 of all unintended pregnancies end in an induced abortion.
Around 45% of all abortions are unsafe, of which 97% take place in developing countries.
Unsafe abortion is a leading – but preventable – cause of maternal deaths and morbidities. It can lead to physical and mental health complications and social and financial burdens for women, communities and health systems.
Lack of access to safe, timely, affordable and respectful abortion care is a critical public health and human rights issue.
Around 73 million induced abortions take place worldwide each year. Six out of 10 (61%) of all unintended pregnancies, and 3 out of 10 (29%) of all pregnancies, end in induced abortion (1).
Comprehensive abortion care is included in the list of essential health care services published by WHO in 2020. Abortion is a simple health care intervention that can be effectively managed by a wide range of health workers using medication or a surgical procedure. In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, a medical abortion can also be safely self-managed by the pregnant person outside of a health care facility (e.g., at home), in whole or in part. This requires that the woman has access to accurate information, quality medicines and support from a trained health worker (if she needs or wants it during the process).
Comprehensive abortion care includes the provision of information, abortion management and post-abortion care. It encompasses care related to miscarriage (spontaneous abortion and missed abortion), induced abortion (the deliberate interruption of an ongoing pregnancy by medical or surgical means), incomplete abortion as well as fetal death (intrauterine fetal demise). The information in this fact sheet focuses on care related to induced abortion.
World Health Organization (WHO)
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