Procedures for terminating a pregnancy performed either by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment lacking the basic medical and standard sanitary conditions, or both.

Additional notes and information

While the definition seems to be linked to the process, characteristics of an unsafe abortion touch on inappropriate circumstances before, during or after an abortion.

In countries where abortion is illegal, legally highly restricted and/or unavailable, women have little choice but to resort to unsafe abortion, which exposes them to an increased risk of mortality or morbidity.


World Health Organization – WHO (2008). Unsafe Abortion: Global and Regional Estimates of the Incidence of Unsafe Abortion and Associated Mortality. Available at: