According to the 2022 State of the World Population Report, there were approximately 121 million unintended pregnancies each year between 2015 and 2019, accounting for 48% of all unintended pregnancies, and 61% of them resulted in induced abortion.
This was revealed by the United Nations Population Fund via a report titled Seeing the Unseen: The Case for Action in the Neglected Crisis of Unwanted Pregnancy. Ms. Ulla Mueller, Resident Representative of the United Nations Population Fund, revealed that, while the rate of unintended pregnancy has decreased, the global abortion rate has remained virtually unchanged.
According to the report, 29 percent of all pregnancies, both intended and unintended, end in abortion worldwide. According to the report, the steady abortion rate combined with the declining incidence of unintended pregnancy means that the proportion of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion increased from 51 percent to 61 percent between 1990 and 1994.
The report comes one year after it was discovered that Nigeria records approximately 2.5 million cases of unintended pregnancy each year, with 19% of married women and 48% of unmarried women attempting to postpone or delay childbearing.
According to the report, “The steady abortion rate alongside the declining incidence of unintended pregnancy means that the proportion of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion has increased since 1990–1994, from 51 to 61 percent.” Taken together, these findings suggest that women may be exercising moderately more autonomy over their reproductive outcomes, in the form of both pregnancy prevention and termination of unintended pregnancies, compared to women 30 years ago.
“On a country or regional level, however, the proportion of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion varies widely.” In many states, there is no discernible association between the national incidence of unintended pregnancy and the proportion of those pregnancies ending in abortion.
In places, women tend to exercise reproductive choice in one way but not the other. The report further said, “The incidence of unintended pregnancy varies widely by region.” There were about 35 unintended pregnancies annually per 1,000 women aged 15 to 49 years in Europe and North America, compared to 64 in Central and Southern Asia and 91 in sub-Saharan Africa, in 2015–2019. But there are wide disparities within regions, too. For example, the estimated unintended pregnancy rate was 49 in Niger but 145 in Uganda.
“Despite these intra-regional relationships between unintended pregnancy and lack of development, there is a suggestion that more vigorous efforts to address unintended pregnancy could yield significant development benefits.” Meanwhile, the proportion of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion varied widely, reflecting the wide diversity in cultural and legal environments around the world.
“Countries (and territories) with higher levels of gender inequality, as measured by the GII, had higher rates of unintended pregnancy in 2015–2019, in both low- and middle-income countries and high-income countries.”