On line Data
May, 2009 Issue Prepared by the UNECE Statistical Division, the UNECE Facts and Figures articles are based on data from the UNECE Statistical Database. For more information contact email@example.com.
Abortion rates are on decline in Eastern Europe and beyond
15 May 2009
Over the 1995-2006 period, abortion rates have decreased in the majority of UNECE countries. The most substantial falls were recorded in eastern and south Europe. In the Russian Federation, the abortion rate nearly halved since 1995, and in Romania it declined by two thirds. However, at some 700 to 1000 abortions per 1000 live births in 2006, the legal abortion rates in these two countries remained the highest in the region. The relative reduction was similar in Bulgaria, Ukraine and some other ex-Soviet economies, thanks in part to wider availability of contraceptives and family planning counseling, and in some cases due to a tightening of anti-abortion legislation. (A case in point is Poland, not shown in the table, where the legal abortion rate in recent years was below 1 per 1000 births).
On the other hand, the abortion rates in Western Europe over that period rarely exceeded 250 per 1000 live births, although there was a slight upward trend in a number of west European countries. In 2006, compared with 1995, there were some 50 to 60 additional incidents of abortion per 1000 live births in Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain.
Among causes permitting induced legal abortions are: physical or mental conditions that can endanger the woman's health if the pregnancy is continued, pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, foetal impairment, economic or social reasons, or simply unwanted pregnancy.
Source: UNECE Gender Database
In the chart, countries are ranked in ascending order of abortion rates in 2006, and are divided into two panels: the upper one covers countries which reported increases in rates since 1995, and the lower one those where the rates declined.
Notes: Legal abortions refer to legally induced early foetal deaths and do not cover spontaneous abortions (i.e. miscarriages). However, in the case of Kyrgyzstan the data include miscarriages.
* Data refer to 2005 instead of 2006.
** Data for 2006 do not include Transdniestra.