Abortion Rates by Country

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According to the World Health Organization, roughly 73 million induced abortions occur worldwide each year, with 61% of all unintended pregnancies and 29% of all pregnancies in general ending with an abortion. The WHO also keeps a database of each country's abortion laws, policies, and level of abortion support in the health care system.

Tracking the rate of abortion in various countries around the world is difficult because many nations do not record or report abortion rates. This is especially true in nations where abortion is illegal, and thus no official records are kept. One frequently cited database of abortion rates is the World Abortion Policies report created by the United Nations. This report measures the number of abortions performed on women between the ages of 15 to 44 in a given country. The U.N. data offers a strong example of the shortcomings of abortion statistics: It covers less than a third of the world's 193 countries and is increasingly outdated, yet it remains some of the best data available.

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Abortion Rates (annually per 1000 women) - United Nations

  1. Russia - 53.7 (2004)
  2. Vietnam - 35.2 (2000)
  3. Kazakhstan - 35.0 (2004)
  4. Estonia - 33.3 (2005)
  5. Belarus - 31.7 (2004)
  6. Romania - 27.8 (2004)
  7. Ukraine - 27.5 (2004)
  8. Latvia - 27.3 (2004)
  9. Cuba - 24.8 (2004)
  10. China - 24.0 (1998)

According to UN data, Russia's abortion rate is 53.7 per 1,000 women. Vietnam has the second-highest rate at 35.2, followed by Kazakhstan with 35. On the opposite end, Mexico has the lowest abortion rate of 0.1, followed by Portugal with 0.2. Abortion is legal in all of these nations.

Top 10 Countries with the Lowest Abortion Rates (annually per 1000 women) - United Nations*

  1. Mexico - 0.1 (2003)
  2. Portugal - 0.2 (2002)
  3. Qatar - 1.2 (2004)
  4. Austria - 1.3 (2001)
  5. India - 3.1 (2001)
  6. South Africa - 4.5 (2000)
  7. Greece - 5.0 (1999)
  8. Croatia - 5.7 (2004)
  9. Switzerland - 7.3 (2004)
  10. Belgium - 7.5 (2003)

* Note: Brazil, Panama, and Poland are listed as having a rate of 0.0. As it is unclear whether this indicates missing data or an actual value of 0, those countries have been left off the ranking.

Abortion rates in the United States

The United States has an abortion rate of 20.8 abortions per 1,000 women. A women's right to abortion was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Roe v. Wade. The decision states that the government cannot regulate a women's choice to have an abortion before the fetus's viability. However, specific abortion laws vary by state, including some that attempt to restrict abortions before viability. Because of different regulations on abortion and other factors, abortion rates also vary significantly between states. Moreover, many political analysts and legal experts believe it is increasingly likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Roe vs Wade in the near future.

The unusual relation between abortion rates and abortion frequency

Perhaps surprisingly, studies show that abortion rates are often higher in nations where abortion is illegal than they are in nations where it is legal. This is because abortion tends to be more readily available in wealthier, more developed nations, where women are less likely to experience an unplanned pregnancy—in large part because birth control and proper sexual education are also widely available and sexual crimes are less common.

Conversely, women in developing and least-developed countries, who tend to have decreased access to birth control and education, but who are more often the victims of sexual crimes, are three times more likely to experience an unplanned pregnancy. Yet, 93 percent of the countries with the most restrictive abortion laws are developing nations.

As a result of these factors, the market for abortions is greater in underdeveloped countries even when abortion is legally prohibited. With no legal recourse, pregnant women in these countries often turn to unlicensed and illegal abortion clinics to obtain an abortion. Illegal abortions are more dangerous than legal abortions, as they tend to be conducted by people with less training, and they come with higher risks and complications, including the risk of death of the mother. Ultimately, according to the World Health Organization, roughly 45% of all abortions are unsafe, and 97% of those unsafe abortions are performed in developing countries.

Here are the 10 countries with the lowest rates of abortion:

  1. Mexico (0.1 per 1,000 women 15-44)
  2. Portugal (0.2 per 1,000 women 15-44)
  3. Qatar (1.2 per 1,000 women 15-44)
  4. Austria (1.3 per 1,000 women 15-44)
  5. India (3.1 per 1,000 women 15-44)
  6. South Africa (4.5 per 1,000 women 15-44)
  7. Greece (5 per 1,000 women 15-44)
  8. Croatia (5.7 per 1,000 women 15-44)
  9. Switzerland (7.3 per 1,000 women 15-44)
  10. Belgium (7.5 per 1,000 women 15-44)

Abortion Rates by Country

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Abortion Rates by Country

* Abortion rates are per 1,000 women
Country Abortion Rate 2021 Population
Russia53.7145,912,025
Vietnam35.298,168,833
Kazakhstan3518,994,962
Estonia33.31,325,185
Belarus31.79,442,862
Romania27.819,127,774
Ukraine27.543,466,819
Latvia27.31,866,942
Cuba24.811,317,505
China24.21,444,216,107
Hungary23.49,634,164
Mongolia21.73,329,289
Seychelles21.698,908
Bulgaria21.36,896,663
United States20.8332,915,073
Sweden20.210,160,169
Australia19.725,788,215
New Zealand19.74,860,643
Georgia19.13,979,765
Moldova17.64,024,019
United Kingdom1768,207,116
France16.965,426,179
Dominican Republic1610,953,703
Kyrgyzstan15.86,628,356
Canada15.238,067,903
Norway15.25,465,630
Slovenia15.22,078,724
Denmark14.35,813,298
Iceland14.1343,353
Israel13.98,789,774
Armenia13.92,968,127
Lithuania13.92,689,862
Tajikistan12.69,749,627
Singapore12.65,896,686
Japan12.3126,050,804
Czech Republic12.210,724,555
Slovakia11.75,460,721
Finland11.15,548,360
Bahrain111,748,296
Italy10.660,367,477
Netherlands10.417,173,099
Albania9.62,872,933
Azerbaijan910,223,342
Tunisia8.611,935,766
Spain8.346,745,216
Germany7.883,900,473
Uzbekistan7.833,935,763
Belgium7.511,632,326
Switzerland7.38,715,494
Croatia5.74,081,651
Greece510,370,744
South Africa4.560,041,994
India3.11,393,409,038
Austria1.39,043,070
Qatar1.22,930,528
Portugal0.210,167,925
Mexico0.1130,262,216

Abortion Rates by Country