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Increasing contraception reduces abortion: complex relationship between contraception and induced abortion grows clearer.

Recent studies offer strong evidence of a widely supposed but difficult-to-demonstrate benefit of reproductive health Within the framework of WHO's definition of health[1] as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, reproductive health, or sexual health/hygiene  services: that increasing the use of effective contraception leads to declines in induced abortion in·duced abortion
Abortion caused intentionally by the administration of drugs or by mechanical means.

induced abortion 

"It is something people have assumed all along, but it is very hard, for a number of reasons, to show that increasing contraception reduces abortion," says Dr. Julie DaVanzo, director of the U.S.-based RAND's Population Matters Project and a coauthor of studies on the relationship between family planning family planning

Use of measures designed to regulate the number and spacing of children within a family, largely to curb population growth and ensure each family’s access to limited resources.
 and abortion in Bangladesh and Russia.

Dr. DaVanzo notes that this challenge is becoming easier with the availability of more accurate, reliable data, including data from a number of countries on trends in contraceptive contraceptive /con·tra·cep·tive/ (-sep´tiv)
1. diminishing the likelihood of or preventing conception.

2. an agent that so acts.
 use and abortion during the 1990s.

The most striking examples of declines in abortion associated with increased use of effective contraception are found in the states of the former Soviet Union and Eastern and Central Europe Central Europe is the region lying between the variously and vaguely defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe. In addition, Northern, Southern and Southeastern Europe may variously delimit or overlap into Central Europe. , where abortion rates dropped by 25 percent to 50 percent during the past decade. (1) Strong data linking lower abortion rates with better access to high-quality family planning services and greater contraceptive use come from a study in Bangladesh that is one of the few to address the question through an experimental design. (2) (HIGH-QUALITY SERVICES KEEP DOWN ABORTION.)

The results of such studies can help dispel misconceptions Misconceptions is an American sitcom television series for The WB Network for the 2005-2006 season that never aired. It features Jane Leeves, formerly of Frasier, and French Stewart, formerly of 3rd Rock From the Sun.  about the relationship between family planning and abortion. They can also help policy-makers, program managers, and providers identify ways to improve reproductive health services.

Demonstrating that increased contraceptive use leads to fewer abortions is particularly important in countries where unsafe abortion Unsafe abortion is a significant cause of maternal mortality and morbidity in the world, especially in developing countries (95% of unsafe abortions take place in developing countries).  poses a serious threat to women's health Women's Health Definition

Women's health is the effect of gender on disease and health that encompasses a broad range of biological and psychosocial issues.
 and survival. Unsafe abortion claims the lives of almost 80,000 women every year. It causes 13 percent of all maternal mortality worldwide and as much as 60 percent of maternal deaths Maternal death, or maternal mortality, also "obstetrical death" is the death of a woman during or shortly after a pregnancy. In 2000, the United Nations estimated global maternal mortality at 529,000, of which less than 1% occurred in the developed world.  in some countries. (3) Life-threatening complications occur in about a third of women undergoing an unsafe abortion. (4)

Although about half of all women with abortion complications do not seek care at a hospital, treating abortion complications still severely drains the limited resources of many hospitals. Some hospitals in developing countries spend one-third of their budgets treating the effects of unsafe abortions. (5)


That increased contraceptive use reduces abortion by helping women avoid unplanned pregnancy may seem obvious. However, in some countries, contraceptive prevalence and abortion rates have risen together when access to effective contraception failed to keep pace with a growing desire for smaller families, leading some to conclude that family planning increases abortion.

Researchers have struggled for years to explain the complex relationship between contraception and abortion. The most basic limitation to such research is the scarcity Scarcity

The basic economic problem which arises from people having unlimited wants while there are and always will be limited resources. Because of scarcity, various economic decisions must be made to allocate resources efficiently.
 and poor quality of most abortion data. Many women are reluctant to admit that they have had an abortion, particularly in countries where they could face severe legal sanctions. Even in countries where abortion is legal, women may seek abortions outside the public health system, where they are more confidential or convenient. Other factors that make it difficult to interpret the relationship between contraception and abortion include the lack of reliable information in many countries about contraceptive use among unmarried, sexually active women and about method failure and incorrect use among all users. (6)

Comparisons of abortion rates in many countries, however, suggest that increases in contraceptive prevalence are associated with reductions in abortions. The world's lowest abortion rates are recorded in Belgium and the Netherlands, where contraception is used extensively, while the highest rates are found in Cuba and Vietnam, where clients have access to a limited range of contraceptive methods Noun 1. contraceptive method - birth control by the use of devices (diaphragm or intrauterine device or condom) or drugs or surgery

birth control, birth prevention, family planning - limiting the number of children born
. (7)

An analysis of data from 11 countries with reliable information and similar fertility rates Noun 1. fertility rate - the ratio of live births in an area to the population of that area; expressed per 1000 population per year
birth rate, birthrate, fertility, natality
 (1.7 to 2.2 children per woman) for a number of years showed the expected inverse relationship A inverse or negative relationship is a mathematical relationship in which one variable decreases as another increases. For example, there is an inverse relationship between education and unemployment — that is, as education increases, the rate of unemployment  between use of modern contraception and abortion. Abortion rates were 10 to 30 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age when the prevalence of modern method use was about 70 percent, but they rose to 30 to 50 per 1,000 when the proportion of women using modern methods was only 40 percent to 60 percent. (8)

The dramatic impact of a reduction in contraceptive use on abortion is illustrated by the reaction to reports in two European countries about possible adverse effects of oral contraceptives Oral Contraceptives Definition

Oral contraceptives are medicines taken by mouth to help prevent pregnancy. They are also known as the Pill, OCs, or birth control pills.
. After two such studies published in the journal The Lancet in October 1983 received extensive media coverage, the number of oral contraceptives prescribed by pharmacists This is a list of notable pharmacists.
  • Dora Akunyili, Director General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control of Nigeria
  • Charles Alderton (1857 - 1941), American inventor the soft drink Dr Pepper
  • George F.
 in England and Wales England and Wales are both constituent countries of the United Kingdom, that together share a single legal system: English law. Legislatively, England and Wales are treated as a single unit (see State (law)) for the conflict of laws.  fell by 14 percent from November to December that year, and the number of abortions reported in the first quarter of 1984 rose markedly. (9) A similar "pill scare" in Norway resulted in a 17 percent drop in the use of oral contraceptives over two months and an interruption of the country's steady decline in abortion rates among women younger than 25. In fact, the abortion rate among young women increased by 36 percent during the following quarter. (10)

A few studies have demonstrated, through a rigorous experimental design that controls for improvements in reproductive health services, a relationship between reduced abortion and increased contraception. A recent study in Bangladesh analyzed the effect of high-quality family planning services on abortion. (11) (HIGH-QUALITY SERVICES KEEP DOWN ABORTION.) Also, researchers in Chile conducted an experimental study in three low-income communities to test whether increasing contraceptive use among women at high risk of abortion reduces the incidence of abortion. After 18 months, contraceptive prevalence had increased in the two Santiago communities with enhanced family planning services and had decreased in a similar community that had received no additional family planning staff or supplies. Abortion rates dropped in all three communities, but the larger declines in the two intervention sites were statistically significant. (12)

Experimental studies such as the ones in Chile and Bangladesh are expensive, time-consuming, and therefore rare. Instead, some researchers have developed analytical models to quantify the relationship between contraception and abortion. A simulation analysis (language, simulation) SIMulation ANalysis - (SIMAN) A simulation language, especially for manufacturing systems, developed by C. Dennis Pegden in 1983.

["Introduction to Simulation using SIMAN", C.D. Pegden et al, McGraw-Hill 1990].
 in Turkey showed that a shift from the use of traditional to modern methods of contraception, a decrease in the traditional method failure rate, and a reduction of abortions of pregnancies that resulted from method failures accounted for 87 percent of the decline in abortion there from 1993 to 1998. (13)

Another analytical model applied to data from the 1995 Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS DHS Department of Homeland Security (USA)
DHS Department of Human Services
DHS Department of Health Services
DHS Demographic and Health Surveys
DHS Dirhams (Morocco national currency) 
) in Kazakhstan estimated that if contraceptive prevalence rose by 10 percent, the general abortion rate would drop by 13 percent--a scenario that matched the actual estimates from the 1999 DHS in Kazakhstan. (14)

Rapid declines in abortion rates in Kazakhstan and other countries where most women are likely to report abortions accurately have created new opportunities to study trends in contraception and abortion. As a result, notes Dr. Charles Westoff, author of a recent DHS study on contraception and abortion in Kazakhstan, (15) "the laboratory for examining this correlation between contraceptive prevalence and abortion rates is that part of the world that was formerly the Soviet Union, where abortion was the principal method of birth control and does not have the stigma that it does in other countries." (A Culture of Abortion?)


Demonstrating that contraception reduces abortion is primarily a matter of timing, Dr. Westoff notes. "It depends on when in the fertility transition you catch it," he says, citing as an example South Korea, where contraceptive prevalence and abortion rates rose together during the 1970s.

From 1970 to 1996, total fertility in South Korea dropped from 4.5 to 1.8 births per woman, and contraceptive prevalence rose from 25 percent to 79 percent. After peaking at 64 abortions per 1,000 women in 1981, South Korea's general abortion rate had fallen to 20 per 1,000 by 1996. (16)

That pattern is typical of most countries as they make the transition to smaller families, particularly when desired family size declines quickly. This creates a sudden new demand for contraception that family planning programs are initially unable to meet. A rising number of women experience unplanned pregnancies, some of which they abort (1) To exit a function or application without saving any data that has been changed.

(2) To stop a transmission.

(programming) abort - To terminate a program or process abnormally and usually suddenly, with or without diagnostic information.
, increasing abortion rates. As access to family planning services improves, however, so does contraceptive prevalence. Consequently, abortion rates eventually decrease.

However, the rate at which contraception replaces abortion varies among and within countries. In Hungary, for example, the abortion rate began to fall shortly after an increase in contraceptive prevalence began in the mid-1960s. (17) A study in three Latin American countries List of American countries

  •  Antigua and Barbuda
  •  Bahamas
 found regional differences in abortion trends, with rates increasing from the mid-1970s into the early 1990s in most of Brazil and Mexico but decreasing substantially in the largest metropolitan areas of Colombia This article or section needs copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone and/or spelling.
You can assist by [ editing it] now.
 and Mexico as contraceptive use stabilized or increased. (18)

Cultural and socioeconomic differences can explain some of these variations. Uneven access to contraceptives also seems to have contributed to the regional variations in Latin America Latin America, the Spanish-speaking, Portuguese-speaking, and French-speaking countries (except Canada) of North America, South America, Central America, and the West Indies. . Other factors that influence the rate of abortion decline include the disparity between actual and desired family size and the extent to which women were relying on abortion to limit childbearing child·bear·ing
Pregnancy and parturition.

childbearing adj.
 before the introduction of family planning programs. During Latin America's fertility transition, abortion rates in many areas rose or were already high, despite laws restricting or prohibiting abortion. Contraceptive prevalence is increasing in the region, but the decline in abortion rates has been relatively slow as access to contraceptives and other reproductive health services gradually improves. (19)

Contraceptive effectiveness also influences the rate at which contraception replaces abortion, as illustrated by the findings from Turkey and another study in Shanghai, China, where many women initially use relatively ineffective methods such as withdrawal, periodic abstinence abstinence: see fasting; temperance movements. , or condoms after the birth of a first child but often switch to intrauterine devices intrauterine device (IUD), variously shaped birth control device, usually of plastic, which is inserted into the uterus by a physician. The IUD may contain copper or levonorgestrel, a progestin (a hormone with progesteronelike effects; see progesterone).  (IUDs). In this study, the proportion of women using IUDs rose from 40 percent in the first postnatal postnatal /post·na·tal/ (-na´t'l) occurring after birth, with reference to the newborn.

Of or occurring after birth, especially in the period immediately after birth.
 year to 75 percent in the fifth postnatal year, while the abortion rate dropped from 20 abortions per 1,000 months of exposure to risk of pregnancy to almost zero. (20) (See graph, page 31.)



Studies on trends in contraception and abortion can point to ways of improving reproductive health services. For example, the finding that abortion decreased in Turkey because of better traditional method use and a shift to modern contraception--rather than an increase in contraceptive prevalence--illustrates the importance of improving clients' use of contraceptives through provider training and quality of service. The Turkish reproductive health program has also emphasized family planning counseling and services for women who have undergone abortions to break the cycle of repeat abortions. (21)

Likewise, surveys in two Russian cities found that abortion rates dipped from 1996 to 1999 while already high rates of contraceptive prevalence did not change. (22) In these cities, further reductions in abortion may best be achieved by ensuring access to contraceptives appropriate to women's needs, including more long-term methods in the method mix, and counseling women in effective and consistent use of their chosen methods. (23)

Studies in Japan, Cuba, and South Korea have found increasing or higher rates of abortion among women younger than 25 years, leading to recommendations on ways to better meet the reproductive health needs of young women and adolescents. (24)

A better understanding of the relationship between contraception and abortion can help policy-makers, program managers, and providers identify the points at which intervention could have averted deaths and disability from abortion complications, says Dr. Oladapo Shittu, head of obstetrics and gynecology obstetrics and gynecology

Medical and surgical specialty concerned with the management of pregnancy and childbirth and with the health of the female reproductive system.
 at Ahmadu Bello University Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) is the largest university in Nigeria and second largest in Africa, second only to Cairo University, Egypt. It is situated in Zaria. It was founded on October 4, 1962 as the University of Northern Nigeria.  Teaching Hospital in Zaria, Nigeria, who has advised many reproductive health programs in Africa and has helped lead efforts to improve postabortion care in Nigeria.

Women who survive unsafe abortions often suffer complications that affect their health, livelihoods, and social status for the rest of their lives, notes Dr. Shittu. Some long-term complications--including chronic pelvic pain Women and Pelvic pain
Most women (and some men), at some time in their lives, experience pelvic pain. When the condition persists for longer than 3 months, it is called chronic pelvic pain (CPP).
, pelvic inflammatory disease pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infection of the female reproductive organs, usually resulting from infection with the bacteria that cause chlamydia or gonorrhea. , and infertility--can be physically incapacitating in·ca·pac·i·tate  
tr.v. in·ca·pac·i·tat·ed, in·ca·pac·i·tat·ing, in·ca·pac·i·tates
1. To deprive of strength or ability; disable.

2. To make legally ineligible; disqualify.
 or emotionally devastating dev·as·tate  
tr.v. dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing, dev·as·tates
1. To lay waste; destroy.

2. To overwhelm; confound; stun: was devastated by the rude remark.
 to women in societies where their status depends on the ability to bear children.

Many women hospitalized for abortion complications are adolescents. In Kenya and Nigeria, more than half of women with the most serious complications are younger than 20 years old. This is because young women are more likely than older women to delay an abortion, obtain an abortion from an unskilled provider, use dangerous procedures, and delay seeking care when complications arise. (25)

"Society needs to be enlightened on how these unsafe abortion problems arise, to make the linkages between a woman or a gift dying or suffering abortion complications and all the factors that lead to death or complications," Dr. Shittu says.

                                                DEATHS DUE TO
                            UNSAFE ABORTIONS   UNSAFE ABORTIONS

World Total                    20,000,000           78,000
Africa                          5,000,000           34,000
Asia                            9,900,000           38,000
Europe                            900,000              500
Latin America & Caribbean       4,000,000            5,000

Figures are estimates.

Source: World Health Organization. Unsafe Abortion. Global and Regional
Estimates of Incidence of and Mortality Due to Unsafe Abortion, with a
Listing of Available Country Data. Geneva: World Health Organization,


(1.) Henshaw SK, Singh S For the fictional global crime syndicate, see .
Singh is a Sanskrit word meaning "lion". It is used as a common surname and middle name in North India by many communities, especially by the Sikhs and the Rajputs.
, Haas T. Recent trends in abortion rates worldwide. Int Fam Plan Perspect 1999;25(1):44-48.

(2.) Rahman M, DaVanzo J, Razzaque A. Do better family planning services reduce abortion in Bangladesh? Lancet 2001;358(9287):1051-56.

(3.) World Health Organization. Unsafe Abortion. Global and Regional Estimates of Incidence of and Mortality Due to Unsafe Abortion, with a Listing of Available Country Data. Geneva Geneva, canton and city, Switzerland
Geneva (jənē`və), Fr. Genève, canton (1990 pop. 373,019), 109 sq mi (282 sq km), SW Switzerland, surrounding the southwest tip of the Lake of Geneva.
: World Health Organization, 1998.

(4.) Alan Guttmacher Alan Frank Guttmacher (1898-1974) was an American physician.

He served as president of Planned Parenthood and vice-president of the American Eugenics Society, founded the Association for the Study of Abortion in 1964, was a member of the Association for Voluntary
 Institute. Sharing Responsibility: Women, Society and Abortion Worldwide. New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
: Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1999.

(5.) Alan Guttmacher Institute.

(6.) Singh S, Sedgh G. The relationship of abortion to trends in contraception and fertility in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. Int Fam Plan Perspect 1997;23(1):4-14; Senlet P, Curtis SL, Mathis J, et al. The role of changes in contraceptive use in the decline of induced abortion in Turkey. Stud Fam Plan 2001;32(1):41-52.

(7.) Henshaw SK, Singh S, Haas T. The incidence of abortion worldwide. Int Fam Plan Perspect 1999;25(suppl.):S30-S38.

(8.) Marston C, Cleland J. Relationships between contraception and abortion: review of the evidence. Unpublished paper. Centre for Population Studies, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine tropical medicine, study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of certain diseases prevalent in the tropics. The warmth and humidity of the tropics and the often unsanitary conditions under which so many people in those areas live contribute to the development and , 2002.

(9.) Wellings K. Help or hype: an analysis of media coverage of the 1983 "Pill scare." Br J Fam Plan 1985;11(3):92-98.

(10.) Skjeldestad FE. Increased number of induced abortions in Norway after media coverage of adverse vascular events from the use of third-generation oral contraceptives. Contraception 1997;55(1):11-14.

(11.) Rahman.

(12.) Molina R, Pereda C, Cumsille F, et al. Prevention of pregnancy in high-risk women: community intervention in Chile. In Mundingo A, Indriso C, eds. Abortion in the Developing World. London: Zed Books, 1999.

(13.) Senlet.

(14.) Westoff C. The Substitution of Contraception for Abortion in Kazakhstan in the 1990s. DHS Analytical Studies No. 1. Calverton, Maryland Calverton is an unincorporated area located on the boundary between Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, Maryland. Geography
As an unincorporated area, Calverton's boundaries are not officially defined.
: ORC Orc

monstrous sea creature; devours human beings. [Ital. Lit.: Orlando Furioso]

See : Monsters
 Macro, 2000.

(15.) Westoff.

(16.) Henshaw, 1999;25(1).

(17.) Alan Guttmacher Institute. The Role of Contraception in Reducing Abortion. New York: Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1997. Available:

(18.) Singh.

(19.) Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1997.

(20.) Marston.

(21.) Senlet.

(22.) Russian Centre for Public Opinion and Market Research, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), agency of the U.S. Public Health Service since 1973, with headquarters in Atlanta; it was established in 1946 as the Communicable Disease Center. , U.S. Agency for International Development. 1999 Russia Women Reproductive Health Survey: A Follow-up of 3 Sites. Preliminary Report. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2000.

(23.) Russian Centre for Public Opinion and Market Research, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Agency for International Development. 1996 Russia Women's Reproductive Health Survey: A Study of Three Sites. Final Report. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1998.

(24.) Goto A, Fujiyama-Koriyama F, Fukao A, et al. Abortion trends in Japan, 1975-95. Stud Fam Plan 2000;31(4):301-8; Noble J, Potts M. The fertility transition in Cuba and the Federal Republic of Korea: the impact of organised family planning. J Bio Sci 1996;28(2):211-25.

(25.) Ipas. Children, Youth and Unsafe Abortion. Chapel Hill, NC:Ipas, 2001. Available:
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