Adolescent girls get pregnant out of ignorance about sexuality or a lack of access to contraception. Frightened at the prospect of being found out, either by parents who will disapprove of her sexual liaison or by a school administration that will expel her from classes, she resorts to legal or illegal abortion. Abortion is more dangerous for adolescents everywhere, because they seek it later and often resort to unsafe procedures.
About one quarter of the 1.5 million abortions performed each year in the USA are on teenagers, and 40% of adolescent pregnancies end in abortion. Teens aged 14 or under obtained one percent of the abortions. According to a study in Ibadan, Nigeria, of unmarried women aged 14-25 who became pregnant, 9 out of every 10 had an abortion. In one Nigerian secondary school 30 percent of the girls had had abortions.
Figures for illegal abortions are much more difficult to establish, but more than half the men interviewed in a study in Rio de Janeiro had helped young women obtain illegal abortions. Data from 13 African countries show that girls aged 11 to 19 represent between 39 and 72 percent of all hospital admissions for abortion-related complications. In Nigeria, abortion complications accounted for 72 percent of all deaths to young women under 19.