Do Restrictive Abortion Laws Actually Reduce Abortion Rates?

This post originally appeared at Sociological Images and has been reprinted with permission.

Andrew S. let us know that The Lancet has just released a study on global trends in abortion, focusing on overall rates, access to safe vs. unsafe abortions, and how the legal status of abortion impacts abortion rates. The results shed some interesting light on the effects of efforts to reduce abortion by outlawing or restricting access to it. Looking at data from 1995 to 2008, the authors found that abortion rates were actually lower in areas of the world with less restrictive abortion laws:

The Guttmacher Institute provides a full summary of the article. Not surprisingly, the more restrictive abortion laws are, the higher the proportion of unsafe abortions (with Eastern Europe being a significant outlier, with the highest global abortion rates). About half of all abortions are unsafe, leading to the deaths of roughly 47,000 women each year, or 13 percent of all global maternal deaths—almost entirely in developing nations, where restrictive abortion laws are more common and access to contraception and medical care are generally lower.

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