Induced abortions and unintended pregnancies in Pakistan

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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During the past decade, unmet need for family planning has remained high in Pakistan and gains in contraceptive prevalence have been small. Drawing upon data from a 2012 national study on postabortion-care complications and a methodology developed by the Guttmacher Institute for estimating abortion incidence, we estimate that there were 2.2 million abortions in Pakistan in 2012, an annual abortion rate of 50 per 1,000 women. A previous study estimated an abortion rate of 27 per 1,000 women in 2002. After taking into consideration the earlier study's underestimation of abortion incidence, we conclude that the abortion rate has likely increased substantially between 2002 and 2012. Varying contraceptive-use patterns and abortion rates are found among the provinces, with higher abortion rates in Baluchistan and Sindh than in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. This suggests that strategies for coping with the other wise uniformly high unintended pregnancy rates will differ among provinces. The need for an accelerated and fortified family planning program is greater than ever, as is the need to implement strategies to improve the quality and coverage of postabortion services.