One would expect that places which have strict laws regulating conditions under which termination of a pregnancy is allowed have the smallest abortion rates but that is not a case as our latest ranking of 10 countries with lowest abortion rates in the world in 2018 will show. Restrictive abortion laws do not have any influence on the number of terminated pregnancies. According to Guttmacher Institute, the rates are similar in countries where abortion is highly restricted (37 abortions per 1,000 women) and where it is broadly legal (34 per 1,000).
Currently, there are 24 countries in which women are not allowed to terminate a pregnancy even when their life is at risk. These countries also prohibit abortions in situations such as rape, incest, or severe fetus illness. If a woman decides to terminate a pregnancy, she might end up serving a prison sentence. For instance, a woman from El Salvador was recently freed after being held in prison for a decade serving a 30-year long punishment for alleged intentional pregnancy termination. There are also many countries such as Ireland which allow abortion only in exceptional circumstances. Restrictive policy in these places has not decreased the number of abortions. Women either travel to countries which allow abortions or undergo unsafe procedures. Guttmacher Institute estimates that “of the 56 million induced abortions that took place each year during 2010–2014” around 25 million, or in other words almost half, were unsafe.
Abortion rates worldwide have been on the decline during last three decades. Between 1990 and 1994 there were 40 terminated pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15-44 globally while the number dropped to 35 per 1,000 for the period between 2010-2014. This decrease was largely driven by the drop in abortion in developed countries where rates fell from 46 per 1,000 to 27 per 1,000. However, there are some developed countries like Germany, where the abortion rate is on the rise again, although it was declining for years. For example in the third quarter of 2016, there were 24,200 abortions in the country which is 0,2 percent more compared to 2015. And then there are, unfortunately, those countries where abortion rates are “alarmingly high”, such as Eastern European countries. Moreover, it’s the region with the highest abortion rate in the world at 43 abortions per 1,000 women. Moreover, Ukraine is one of the countries which have the most abortions per capita.
There are few sources estimating annual abortions per country. Johnston’s Archive looks comprehensive, but in some cases, it relies on statistics dating back to 1990s. However, those looking for abortion rates by country map might find this website useful. In order to create the ranking of 10 countries with lowest abortion rates in the world in 2018, we decided to rely on the latest report provided by Guttmacher Institute, which was published in March this year. Although the document includes most recent statistics issued by governments as well as unofficial estimates the numbers refer to 2015 and before. Note that these are the most recent data and that it can be rightly assumed that abortion rates by country in 2016 and 2017 have not changed much.
If you want to know more about places with the highest number of terminated pregnancies you can read our article 11 Countries with Highest Abortion Rates in the World, where you will discover that at one point Greenland abortion rate was 50.45% which was the highest in the world.
And now, let’s check out our list of countries with lowest abortion rates in the world in 2018. We are starting off with the last two countries which share the 9th place.
Number of abortions per 1,000 women: 12
Abortion was first legalized in Denmark in 1939. However, at that time women could terminate a pregnancy only if their or fetus life were at risk, or if they were raped. The law was liberalized in 1973 allowing pregnancy termination without restriction until the 12th week. At later stages, abortion is allowed only in specific cases.