Nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended—a global crisis, says new UNFPA report

War, humanitarian emergencies create conditions for unintended pregnancies to climb further.

For immediate release 

November 29, 2022 

OTTAWA, ON — Nearly half of all pregnancies, totalling 121 million each year throughout the world, are unintended. For the women and girls affected, the most life-altering reproductive choice—whether or not to become pregnant—is no choice at all, explains the State of World Population 2022 report, released earlier this year by UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency.  

The ground breaking report, “Seeing the Unseen: The case for action in the neglected crisis of unintended pregnancy,” warns that this human rights crisis has profound consequences for societies, women and girls and global health. Over 60 per cent of unintended pregnancies end in abortion and an estimated 45 per cent of all abortions are unsafe, causing between 5 to 13 per cent of all maternal deaths, thereby having a major impact on the world’s ability to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.  

The war in Ukraine and other conflicts and crises around the world are expected to drive an increase in unintended pregnancies, as access to contraception is disrupted and sexual violence increases.  

“This report is a wakeup call. The staggering number of unintended pregnancies represents a global failure to uphold women and girls’ basic human rights,” says UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem. “For the women affected, the most life-altering reproductive choice—whether or not to become pregnant—is no choice at all. By putting the power to make this most fundamental decision squarely in the hands of women and girls, societies can ensure that motherhood is an aspiration and not an inevitability.”  

For the Canadian launch of the report, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights is hosting a panel conversation on the role civil society and policymakers can play in building a world where every pregnancy is wanted. The panelists include Hani Rukh-E-Qamar, founder of the Canadian Advisory of Women Immigrants; Rita Morbia, Co-Manager at Inter Pares; Tanya Trevors, Director, Women, Children and Adolescent Health and Rights, Global Health and Nutrition Bureau at Global Affairs Canada; and Sarah Craven, Chief of UNFPA’s North America office.

“We are seeing an intensification of attacks on hard fought gains on gender equality and sexual and reproductive rights around the world,” said Kelly Bowden, Director of Policy, Advocacy and Government Relations at Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights. “In the face of this, we need continued and growing leadership to address sexual and reproductive health crises – including the crisis of unintended pregnancies. Canada must continue to act as a vocal champion and encourage investment and support to protect human rights—including sexual and reproductive health and rights.” 

The 2022 UNFPA State of World Population report shows how easily the most fundamental rights of women and girls are pushed to the backburner in times of peace and in the midst of war. It calls on decision-makers and health systems to prioritize the prevention of unintended pregnancies by improving the accessibility, acceptability, quality and variety of contraception and greatly expanding quality sexual and reproductive health care and information.  

It urges policy makers, community leaders and all individuals to empower women and girls to make affirmative decisions about sex, contraception and motherhood, and to foster societies that recognize the full worth of women and girls. If they do, women and girls will be able to contribute fully to society, and will have the tools, information and power to make this fundamental choice—to have children, or not—for themselves. 

“Upholding reproductive rights is fundamental to reducing unintended pregnancies,” said Bowden. “Canadian decision-makers, advocates, and community organizers all have a role to play in advancing bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights.” 

 

Media Contact 
 

Ani Colekessian 

Director of Communications and Development 

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights 

613 241 4474 x 10700 

[email protected]  

 

Zina Alam 

Media Specialist, UNFPA 

+1 929 378 9431 

[email protected]  

___________________________________________ 

 

Notes to editors  

  • You can access the UNFPA State of World Population report, Seeing the Unseen: The case for action in the neglected crisis of unintended pregnancy here: www.unfpa.org/swp2022  
  • Reporters are welcome to attend the panel. Please email [email protected] for more information. 
  • Kelly Bowden is available for interview, please reach out to [email protected] 
     

The State of World Population report is UNFPA’s annual flagship publication. Published yearly since 1978, it shines a light on emerging issues in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights, bringing them into the mainstream and exploring the challenges and opportunities they present for international development. This report’s analysis builds upon new data from our partner, the Guttmacher Institute, released on 24 March. 

ACTION CANADA FOR SEXUAL HEALTH & RIGHTS is a progressive, pro-choice charitable organization committed to advancing and upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada and globally. For more information about Action Canada, please visit www.actioncanadashr.org  

THE UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND (UNFPA) is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. As the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA helps people obtain contraception and life-saving reproductive health services and information and empowers women and girls to make informed decisions about their bodies and lives. For more information about UNFPA, please visit: www.unfpa.org 

Posted on 2022-11-09
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