After three years of research, the New York-based Guttmacher Institute has concluded that although contraceptive use has lowered the number of abortions worldwide, unsafe abortions still account for a staggering 70,000 deaths a year, particularly in the developing world. More than half the deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa, a region with the lowest rates of contraceptive use and the highest rates of unintended pregnancies.
"In much of the developing world," said the Institute's president Sharon Camp, "abortion remains highly restricted, and unsafe abortion is common and continues to damage women's health and threaten their survival."
The report calls for easing developing nations' abortion laws, citing that laws banning or restricting abortion don't keep it from happening, they just make abortion unsafe and either self-induced or performed by unskilled people in any unhygienic conditions.
The Guttmacher Institute's recommendations: expand access to family planning and modern contraceptives and to legal and safe abortion, and improve the coverage and quality of post-abortion care.
Their recommendations have been criticized by Deirdre McQuade, a policy director for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-life Activities who also castigates priests or nuns who make referrals to family planning services, which she says veers from church policy. "We need to be much more creative in assisting women with supportive services," she said, "so they don't need to resort to the unnatural act of abortion."