It was important to do an in-depth examination of the distribution of abortions by the method of abortion and gestational age at the time of termination. It is basically of clinical relevance as it provides insight into the options women may have to terminate their pregnancies. Comparing these distributions across countries will help in understanding the factors that can drive these distributions, including regulations and practices related to the provision of abortion services, and women’s preferences and needs.

The researchers tried to obtain the official statistics on gestational age and method of abortion for all high-income countries with liberal abortion laws. The required data was obtained for the 24 high-income countries with available data. Once the data was obtained the researchers calculated percentage distributions of abortions by gestational age of pregnancy and method of abortion for recent years for which data were available, and assessed trends in the preceding 10 years whenever possible.

Over the past decade, there has been an increase in both the proportion of abortions that were medication abortions and the proportion that were obtained before 9 weeks gestation.

These findings obtained through this study highlighted changes in abortion provision in the past decade. More research is needed to understand whether the observed distributions are a function of women’s preferences or of barriers to the timing and type of care they would prefer.