Country-level patterns in unintended pregnancy and abortion 2015–2019: a description of country-specific estimates from a Bayesian hierarchical model

Jonathan Bearak, Guttmacher
Anna Popinchalk, Guttmacher Institute
Cynthia Beavin
Bela Ganatra, WHO
Ann-Beth Moller, World Health Organization (WHO)
Özge Tunçalp, World Health Organization
Leontine Alkema, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Internationally comparable estimates of unintended pregnancy and abortion incidence can illuminate disparities in sexual and reproductive health and autonomy, and country-specific estimates are essential to inform country level policy and programming. We developed a Bayesian model which jointly estimated unintended pregnancy and abortion rates using all available data on pregnancy determinants and outcomes. We reported annualized estimates for 166 countries in 2015-2019, and examined how distributions of country estimates varied between Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) regions. Estimated unintended pregnancy rates ranged from 11 (80% UI: 10 to 12) in Montenegro to 145 (137 to 152) in Uganda per 1000 women ages 15-49. Between-country heterogeneity was substantial in all SDG regions, but was greatest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Estimated abortion rates ranged from 5 (5 to 6) in Singapore to 87 (62 to 122) in Georgia. Variation between country estimates was similar in all SDG regions except for Europe and Northern America, where estimated abortion rates were generally lower. This evidence highlights the importance of investing in access to contraception and comprehensive abortion care, including in regions which may have lower rates of unintended pregnancy or abortion, respectively, as countries may differ substantially from regional averages.

Keywords: Bayesian methods / estimation, Family planning and contraception, Fertility and childbirth, Inequality

See paper.

  Presented in Session 128. Pregnancy Intentions and Life Planning among Women, Men and Adolescents