1 less than 2%
2 2% to 4.9%
3 5% to 9.9%
4 10% to 14.9%
5 15% to 24.9%
6 25% to 34.9%
7 35% or over
8 No Data
0 abortion not permitted
1 to save a woman's life
2 to preserve physical health and to save a woman's life
3 to preserve mental health and above
4 in case of rape and incest and most of the above
5 in case of rape and incest and above
6 in case of foetal impairment and most of the above
7 in case of foetal impairment and above
8 for economic and social reasons and most of the above
9 for economic and social reasons and the above
10 on request

Births by Caesarean Section

What does it mean ?

This indicator shows the number of births by caesarean section relative to all births. Birth by caesarean section requires specialist health worker skills, an operating theatre and availability of specific drugs and medical products.

Why does it matter ?

All pregnancies are associated with risk and when medically justified, a caesarean section can prevent maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity. However, because any surgery carries risk of complications, caesarean sections should not be performed unless it is medically required. According to the World Health Organisation, about 10-15 % of all births require delivery by caesarean section. As such, caesarean section rates lower than 10% indicates under-use and caesarean section rates over 15 % indicate over-use. Because birth by caesarean section requires specialist medical skills and health services, this indicators is sometimes used as a proxy indicator to measure the availability of quality of maternal health services in countries where data from health information systems and health facility surveys are limited.

How is it collected ?

Data on the percent of birth by caesarean section is usually derived from large scale, nationally representative surveys such as Demographic and Health (DHS) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), other national surveys. DHS/ MICS are household surveys where women are asked if they have given birth (usually in the last three or five years) and the circumstances surrounding the birth including if they had a caesarean section.

"The Increasing Trend in Caesarean Section Rates: Global, Regional and National Estimates: 1990-2014" Betrán, A., et al. PLoS One. 2016; 11(2): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4743929/

Legal Grounds for Abortion

What does it mean ?

This indicator shows the legal status of abortion in each country by categorising the grounds on which abortion is allowed into the following groups:

  • abortion not permitted
  • to save a woman's life
  • to preserve physical health and to save a woman's life
  • to preserve mental health and above
  • in case of rape and incest and most of the above
  • in case of rape and incest and above
  • in case of foetal impairment and most of the above
  • in case of foetal impairment and above
  • for economic and social reasons and most of the above
  • for economic and social reasons and the above
  • on request

Why does it matter ?

The legal status of abortion is an important indicator of women's ability to enjoy their reproductive rights. Legal restrictions on abortion often cause high levels of illegal and unsafe abortion, and there is a proven link between unsafe abortion and maternal mortality. There is strong evidence that legal restrictions do not stop women from having abortions, driving them instead to seek unsafe and illegal procedures which risk their lives.

How is it collected ?

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, Policy Section collects these data every 2 years via their World Population Policies Database.

Findings are disseminated under the website: https://esa.un.org/PopPolicy/about_database.aspx

Download their database from this website for detailed data on grounds for abortion for individual countries.

United Nations, World Population Policies Database. http://esa.un.org/poppolicy/about_database.aspx