Statistical Papers - United Nations (Ser. A), Population and Vital Statistics Report

2412-138X (online)
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The Population and Vital Statistics Report series presents data for countries or areas on population size (total, male, and female) from the latest available census, estimated total population size for the later available year, and the number and rate of vital events (live births, deaths, and infant deaths) for the latest available year within the past 15 years. These data are presented as reported by national statistical authorities to the Demographic Yearbook of the Statistics Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Abortion policies and reproductive health around the world

Abortion policies and reproductive health around the world You do not have access to this content

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22 Oct 2014
9789210568371 (PDF)

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The report on Abortion Policies and Reproductive Health Around the World provides up-to-date information on Government policies on abortion and related reproductive health issues for all 193 Member States, 2 Observer States and 2 non-member States of the United Nations. The report provides changes between 1996 and 2013 in legal grounds on which induced abortion is permitted in each country. Seven legal grounds for abortion are included, namely: (1) to save the life of a woman; (2) to preserve a woman’s physical health; (3) to preserve a woman’s mental health; (4) in case of rape or incest; (5) because of foetal impairment; (6) for economic or social reasons; and (7) on request. The report also includes latest available information on Government policies and programmes related to fertility, family planning, access to reproductive health services, and maternal mortality. In addition, the report provides information on how abortion policies are associated with selected reproductive health indicators.
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  • Introduction
    The Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) broadly defined reproductive health to include all matters relating to the well-being of the reproductive system and its functions and processes. It envisioned that every sexual interaction should be free of coercion and infection, every pregnancy should be intended, and every delivery and childbirth should be healthy. The Programme of Action emphasized the rights of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children, the right to information and access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as the right of access to appropriate health-care services that ensured safe and healthy pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Abortion policies
    In 2013, 97 per cent of Governments permitted abortion to save a woman’s life. Whereas in about two thirds of countries in 2013, abortion was permitted when the physical or mental health of the mother was endangered, and only in half of the countries when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest or in cases of foetal impairment. Only about one third of countries permitted abortion for economic or social reasons or on request. Chile, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, the Holy See, Malta and Nicaragua did not permit abortion under any circumstances.
  • Reproductive health policies
    Globally, the total fertility rate has declined from 3.0 children per woman in 1990-1995 to 2.5 children per woman in 2010-2015. Fertility has also continued to fall in Africa, where the vast majority of high fertility countries are located, from 5.7 children per woman in 1990-1995 to 4.7 children per woman in 2010-2015. By contrast, the number of countries with total fertility below the replacement level (2.1 children per woman) has increased from 55 countries in 1990-1995 to 86 countries in 2010-2015.
  • Abortion policies and reproductive health outcomes
    For the purposes of the analysis presented in this section, countries allowing abortion for economic or social reasons or on request are categorized as having “liberal” abortion policies. All other countries are considered as having “restrictive” abortion policies.
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