Illegal abortions are a major cause of death among women of childbearing age in developing countries, according to a report by Population Action International.
The Washington-based research and advocacy group said yesterday that in many countries, strict abortion controls have little effect in reducing the numbers of abortions -- but have a significant effect on women's health.
Stephanie Koontz, one of the authors of the study, said abortions are believed to account for 20 to 40 percent of all pregnancy- and childbirth-related deaths of women. She said that some countries with the strictest abortion controls -- and the least access to contraceptives -- also have some of the highest rates of abortion.
"Estimates of abortion-related deaths are imprecise but range from less than 100,000 to as many as 200,000 deaths each year," the report said.
Representatives of two American anti-abortion groups said they believe that the numbers used to reach such conclusions are mainly based on speculation.