Increased use of contraceptives has reduced global abortion rates, but unsafe abortions kill 70,000 women each year and seriously harm or maim millions more, according to a global report.
Despite easier access to abortion with restrictions being relaxed in many countries, the number of abortions fell from an estimated 45.5 million in 1995 to 41.6 million in 2003, the report by the U.S.-based Guttmacher Institute said.
But the study found a stubbornly high number -- almost 20 million -- of unsafe abortions, mostly in poorer countries and often carried out by the women themselves using inappropriate drugs or herbal potions, or by untrained traditional healers.
The researchers said 40 % of women still live in nations where abortion is highly prohibited, and called for greater effort to improve access to contraception to prevent some of an estimated 76 million unwanted pregnancies each year.
They also stressed that in the developing world as a whole, healthcare for women harmed by unsafe abortions costs an estimated $500 million.
The researchers said preventing the need for abortion entirely was unrealistic, but eliminating unsafe abortion by improving access to contraception and increasing pressure to lift abortion restrictions seems to be a worthwhile and achievable goal, according to Reuter's report.
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