New safe abortion guidelines released

Unsafe abortion kills. Much has been done to improve abortion services in the European Region, but unsafe abortion still causes up to 30% of maternal deaths in some countries in eastern Europe and central Asia. WHO has published the second edition of “Safe abortion: technical and policy guidance for health systems”.

According to WHO estimates, about 360 000 unsafe abortions were carried out in eastern Europe in 2008. The corresponding number in other parts of the Region was negligible. In eastern Europe, 11% of maternal deaths on average can be attributed to unsafe abortion.

Safe abortion guidelines

These new guidelines, updating the first 2003 edition, provide policy-makers, programme managers and health-service providers with the latest evidence-based guidance on clinical care. They also include information on how to establish and strengthen services, and outline a human-rights-based approach to laws and policies on safe, comprehensive abortion care.

The updated WHO guidance reflects changes in methods of abortion and related care, and service delivery as it applies to the availability and use of new methods. It also includes the latest data on the scale of the problem of unsafe abortion. 

Dot chart showing deaths attributable to unsafe abortion per 100 000 live births, by legal grounds for abortion. Reproduced from The World Health Report 2008