Estimating the incidence of abortion in Pakistan

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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This study applies an indirect estimation method to develop comprehensive national and provincial estimates of the prevalence of abortion and abortion-related morbidity in Pakistan. Data from a health facilities survey and a health professionals survey from 2002 are analyzed to develop estimates of postabortion hospitalizations and of the abortion rate, abortion ratio, and unwanted pregnancy rate. We estimate that 890,000 induced abortions are performed annually in Pakistan, and estimate an annual abortion rate of 29 per 1,000 women aged 15-49. The abortion rate is found to be higher in provinces where contraceptive use is lower and where unwanted childbearing is higher. The unwanted pregnancy rate is estimated at 77 per 1,000 women, or about 37 percent of all pregnancies. Abortions account for termination of one in seven pregnancies. An estimated 197,000 women are treated annually in public hospitals and private teaching hospitals for induced abortion complications, a number equivalent to an annual rate of 6.4 women hospitalized as a result of unsafe induced abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-49.