Despite induced abortion being broadly legal in India, up‐to‐date information on its frequency and safety is not readily available. Using direct and indirect methodological approaches, this study measures the one‐year incidence and safety of induced abortions among women in the state of Rajasthan. The analysis utilizes data from a population‐based survey of 5,832 reproductive aged women who reported on the abortion experiences of their closest female confidante in addition to themselves. We separately assess correlates of having a recent and most unsafe abortion using multivariable regression models. The confidante approach produced a one‐year abortion incidence estimate of 23 per 1,000 women, whereas the respondent estimate is 9.5 per 1,000 women. Based on the confidante estimate, approximately 441,000 abortions occurred in Rajasthan over a year. Overall, 25 and 29 percent of respondent and confidante reported abortions were classified as most unsafe. Results suggest that abortion remains an integral component of women's fertility regulation, and that a liberal law alone is insufficient to guarantee access to safe abortion services. Existing policies on abortion in India need updating to permit task sharing in line with current recommendations to expand service delivery so that demand is met through provision of safe and accessible services.
Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.