London, May 13: Abortion rates in the developed world have dropped dramatically to a record low during the past 25 years, but only fallen slightly in poorer developing nations, a new global study said.
The study conducted by the World Health Organisation and the Guttmacher Institute, a US-based non-profit organisation promoting sexual and reproductive health, also found that restricting or legally banning access to abortions did little to lower the rates, and instead was more likely to force people to turn to clandestine and unsafe measures, Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.
The researchers looked at total numbers of each year between 1990 and 1994 and between 2010 and 2014, finding that an average of 56.3 million abortions took place each year worldwide during the 2010-2014 period, a 10-percent increase compared with the 1990-1994 period.
During the past 25 years, the study said, the developed countries' annual abortion rate per 1,000 women of childbearing age (15-44 years old) dropped from 46 to 27. However in poorer countries, the abortion rate remained virtually unchanged, dropping from 39 to 37.
Published in The Lancet medical journal, the study highlighted the shortage of access to modern contraception methods in developing countries to reduce unwanted pregnancies.
"In developing countries ... family planning services do not seem to be keeping up with the increasing desire for smaller families," leading researcher Gilda Sedgh said.
According to the study, Eastern Europe saw the biggest decline in abortion rates in the past 25 years as the annual average abortions there dropped from 88 to 42 per 1,000 women.