A global report said on Tuesday, unsafe abortions kill 70,000 women each year and seriously harm or maim millions more.
Despite easier access to abortion with restrictions being relaxed in many countries, the number of abortions fell from an estimated 45.5 million in 1995 to 41.6 million in 2003, the report by the U.S.-based Guttmacher Institute said.
But the study found a stubbornly high number -- almost 20 million -- of unsafe abortions, mostly in poorer countries and often carried out by the women themselves using inappropriate drugs or herbal potions, or by untrained traditional healers.
"It is significant and tragic that while the overall rate of abortion is on the decline, unsafe abortion has not declined," said Sharon Camp, president of the Guttmacher Institute, a think-tank which studies sexual and reproductive health, Reuters reports.
It was also reported, the Guttmacher Institute's survey found abortion occurs at roughly equal rates in regions where it is legal and regions where it is highly restricted.
It did note that improved access to contraception had cut the overall abortion rate over the last decade.
But unsafe abortions, primarily illegal, have remained almost static.
The survey of 197 countries carried out by the Guttmacher Institute - a pro-choice reproductive think tank - found there were 41.6m abortions in 2003, compared with 45.5 in 1995 - a drop which occurred despite population increases, BBC News reports.
Meanwhile, overall, the report is "a good news/bad news story," said Susan Cohen, the Guttmacher Institute's director of government affairs, who hailed the decline in abortions and unintended pregnancies.
"The bad news is that where most of the poor women live, throughout the developing world, unsafe abortion remains high, and women are dying as a result of it," she said. "It's so preventable, and that's the tragedy," The Associated Press reports.