The WHO study also showed that - shock horror - in countries where abortions are safe, fewer of them take place. Abortions were classified as safe or unsafe based on World Health Organization definitions.
"Increasing the availability, accessibility, and affordability of contraceptions can reduce the incidence of unintended pregnancies, and therefore abortions, but it is essential to combine this strategy with interventions to ensure access to safe abortions", she said.
The study, conducted by an worldwide team of researchers at WHO and Guttmacher Institute, involved 150 pieces of data from 61 countries on both safe and unsafe abortions performed around the world between 2010 and 2014.
The report distinguished between 17 million abortions each year that are "less safe", performed by professionals with outdated methods or by laypeople with recommended methods.
About 14 per cent were "least safe" abortions provided by untrained persons using unsafe methods, such as introduction of foreign objects and use of herbal concoctions.
In Africa, the least safe abortions were associated with higher rates of death, likely due to serious complications and poor health systems, the researchers said.
Majority of unsafe abortions, or 97 percent, occurred in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency said.More news: Thai PM confirms Yingluck in Dubai
The share of safe abortions exceeded 50 per cent in only three developing world regions: southeastern Asia (60 per cent), western Asia (52 per cent), and southern Africa (74 per cent).
Unsurprisingly, 87.5% all abortions in developed countries were safe.
The researchers categorized abortions as "safe" or "unsafe" and created two subcategories within the unsafe category, "less safe" and "least safe". However, the study authors note that abortions in Latin America were more likely to be classified as "less safe" rather than "least safe", possibly because of the increased use there of misoprostol, a medication for abortion, rather than traditional unsafe procedures. And that most countries in these regions also have relatively permissive laws on abortion; high levels of contraceptive use, economic development, and gender equality; as well as high-quality health services - all factors that contribute to making abortion safer.
Overall, nearly all abortions in developed countries were deemed safe, whereas roughly half of those in developing countries were safe, according to the findings.
Such a disparity often emerges when any health outcome is measured in developed versus developing regions, but safe abortion care is possible in developing countries, Ganatra said.
Unsafe abortion occurs when a pregnancy is terminated either by persons lacking the necessary skills/information or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards, or both.
Between 2010 and 2014, there were 55.7 million abortions per year, worldwide. This law, known as the Global Gag Rule, forbids the US's federal funds from going towards any organisation that so much as mentions "abortion" in its documents.