The influence of abortion legislation on maternal mortality

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 1998 Dec;63 Suppl 1:S123-9. doi: 10.1016/s0020-7292(98)00194-5.


Worldwide some 20 million unsafe abortions take place each year and account for approximately 13% of all maternal mortality and serious complications associated with it, such as sepsis, hemorrhage and trauma. Only a quarter of all women in the world do not have any access to legal abortion, whereas 40% have a legal right to decide for themselves. This liberalization of abortion legislation has seen a tremendous drop in abortion-related maternal mortality. Death from unsafe abortions are almost unknown in countries where abortion is available on request. Reduction of the need for induced abortion through the provision of good family planning services should be an integral part of healthcare. Consistent use of contraception greatly reduces the need for abortion, but it cannot completely eliminate this need. Thus, it is essential that safe medical abortion services should be made available to all women in the world in cases of contraceptive failure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Legal / mortality*
  • Abortion, Legal / standards
  • Cause of Death*
  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Legislation, Medical / standards
  • Legislation, Medical / trends
  • Maternal Mortality / trends*
  • Policy Making
  • Pregnancy
  • Singapore
  • Survival Rate