Unintended pregnancies account for about half of all pregnancies

Un Report: Nearly Half Of All Pregnancies Are Unintended

According to a new study, over half of all pregnancies worldwide—121 million each year—are unplanned, making this a “neglected issue,” according to the United Nations Population Fund.

60% of unplanned pregnancies end in abortion, according to the United Nations Population Fund’s annual State of the World Population Report 2022. An estimated 45 percent of these abortions are unsafe, which leads to 5% to 13% of the deaths of the mothers who have them.

“This study is a wake-up call,” said Dr. Natalia Kanem, executive director of the fund, which is now known as the United Nations’ department for sexual and reproductive health.

“Unintended births are at an all-time high, indicating a global failure to protect women’s and girls’ basic human rights. “The most life-altering reproductive choice for the women affected is whether or not to become pregnant at all,” she stated.

According to the report, which provides “some reassurance,” unintended pregnancy decreased from 79 to 64 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 49 between 1990 and 2019, according to the report. However, due to population growth, the overall number of women having unwanted pregnancies grew by around 13% throughout the 30-year period.

There are an estimated 257 million women around the world who want to avoid getting pregnant but aren’t using safe and modern contraception methods, according to research from the fund. In 47 countries, 40% of sexually active women aren’t using any kind of contraception at all.

According to UN data released this year, 23 percent of women of reproductive age in 64 countries are unable to say no to sex, 24 percent are unable to make health care decisions for themselves, and 8% are unable to make contraceptive decisions.

“Together, this means that only 57 percent of women have control over their sexual and reproductive rights,” the report stated.

Between 2015 and 2019, “there were about 121 million unwanted pregnancies each year,” according to data from the British medical journal The Lancet in 2020. That’s about 48% of all pregnancies.

Study leader Jonathan Bearak is a senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute. He led the study and looked at country-by-country statistics on unplanned pregnancies recently released by Guttmacher and the World Health Organization, the foundation says.

According to Kanem, “Preventing unplanned pregnancies is a non-negotiable first step” toward gender equality.

In the report’s foreword, she wrote, “When people have actual information about their health, bodies, and futures, they can contribute to more prosperous societies and a more sustainable, equitable, and just world.”