UNFPA is sounding the alarm on a human rights crisis that has ramifications for women, societies, and the world in light of its 2022 State of World Population report, Seeing the Unseen: The case for action in the neglected crisis of unintended pregnancy, which estimates there are 121 million unintended pregnancies each year. The report builds on new data from the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization (WHO) that outlines the first-ever estimates of unintended pregnancy and abortion at the country level, highlighting major disparities across 150 countries in access to quality sexual and reproductive health care.

“This report is a wakeup call. The staggering number of unintended pregnancies represents a global failure to uphold women and girls’ basic human rights,” says Dr. Natalia Kanem, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). “For the women affected, the most life-altering reproductive choice — whether or not to become pregnant — is no choice at all. By putting the power to make this most fundamental decision squarely in the hands of women and girls, societies can ensure that motherhood is an aspiration and not an inevitability.”

An unintended pregnancy, by definition, is unplanned; but it may be wanted or unwanted, or anywhere in between. And it can happen to any person of reproductive age who can get pregnant — young or old, rich or poor, partnered or unpartnered. This report, Dr. Kanem emphasizes, “is not about unwanted babies or happy accidents,” but rather it’s about agency: the circumstances that strip it from people, and the ripple effects of that not only for individuals but for the world.

These circumstances, and their outcomes, are complex and layered. Below are some of the key, crosscutting themes emphasized throughout the report.

Read the full article about unintended pregnancies by Seema Jalan at United Nations Foundation.