According to a 2017 study by the Bolivian Medical Journal, an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 abortions are performed per year. Studies conducted in 2016 state that 38,5% of pregnancies in people under 15 years of age end up in abortion. Moreover, the most common method to induce abortion is Misoprostol accounting for 65,8% abortions, followed by dilation and curettage with 12,7%; it’s important to note that the WHO doesn’t recognize this method as safe, the following method used according to the statistics is Manual Vacuum Aspiration with 8,7%, 2% used Mifepristone with Misoprostol. Finally, 10% of abortion seekers do not know the method used for abortion .
What does the law say in Bolivia?
Abortion Rights in Bolivia
The state of the abortion law
Bolivia’s law allows abortion in the following cases:
- Risk to the health (physical or mental) or life of the pregnant person
- In this case, a medical assessment is required.
- Pregnancy resulting from rape and/or incest.
- In this case, a formal complaint is necessary.
- Fetal health issues.
- In this case, a medical assessment is required.
Despite, the three legal grounds outlined in the law, several requirements create barriers to access safe abortion:
- Representation and/or consent are required for individuals with disabilities or minors to access the procedure.
- Waiting periods are enforced before the procedure can be accessed.
- Medical approval and medical committees are necessary to access abortion.
In summary, the expansion of legal grounds for abortion in Bolivia has allowed abortions in specific situations. However, persistent obstacles hinder access to legal abortions. In addition to the aforementioned barriers, the country lacks stringent professional regulations to ensure the maintenance of medical confidentiality.
How many abortions are performed in Bolivia?
Data and numbers of abortions in Bolivia
According to Ipas Bolivia , there is a lack of information about the number of abortions in the country. The latest approximate figure is from 2010, which states that, in that year, around 52.057 procedures occurred. Consequently, there was a rate of 21 abortions for every 1000 women between the ages of 19 and 49. The same research aims to calculate how many abortions would happen in Bolivia between 2010 and 2016. Given the 2010 data, in 2016, 59.646 estimated procedures were performed. Thus, 163 abortions, on average, were conducted in Bolivia per day.
Despite the more open decree of 2017, abortion is the third cause of Bolivia’s maternal death. One of the reasons behind this could be that, despite a more flexible law, women, and health providers still consider abortion to be something that would stigmatize them. People’s unawareness of the law’s update is a problem that should also be acknowledged. Following IPAS Bolivia research , the sentence hasn’t been properly socialized. Consequently, not every needed person has access to a safe procedure.
What do people in Bolivia believe?
Opinion on abortion in Bolivia
There is no official data about public opinion on abortion in Bolivia. However, according to different articles published by the feminist news page Muy Waso , several conservative groups across Bolivia are misinforming people to influence their decision against the voluntary interruption of pregnancy.
On the other hand, a section of the medical community is also against flexibilization of the abortion law. The article ‘El aborto legal en Bolivia y los objetores de conciencia institucionalizados’  states that, during the 2017 abortion law congress discussion, some politically involved physicians were trying to stop the law from progressing, arguing that they were ‘pro-life’. Nonetheless, Ipas’ 2018 report ‘Las cifras hablan II’  ran a survey among 211 health providers. They were asked about their opinion regarding the 2017 abortion law. According to the report’s results, 82% of them agreed with the sentence. Despite that, they were concerned about the stigmatization that performing the procedure could bring.
Who are the people who have requested abortions?
Abortion seekers in Bolivia
According to the research by the Bolivian Medical Journal in 2022, the age of the individual who underwent abortion was 0,7% people under 14, 32,2% people from 15 to 20, 63% people from 21 to 30, and 4% people from 31 to 40. Furthermore, the document stated that 87% of those who underwent abortions were single. Finally, the investigation also documented the level of schooling attended, showing that 46,3% as professionals, 31,5% attained a bachelor’s degree, 19,5% trained as higher technicians, and 2,7% completed part of their secondary education .
However, there seems to be a lack of information about abortion seekers in Bolivia. The paper ‘Sexual and reproductive rights for contraception in Bolivia, Colombia, and Uruguay in the framework of human rights*’  claims that despite the 2017 sentence, not only the voluntary interruption of the pregnancy procedure but also birth control is not easily accessible to marginalized impoverished populations. The article ‘La cara siniestra del aborto clandestino en Bolivia’ , talks about how despite the Bolivian abortion law, clandestine abortions continue to exist. People who go to these places come from poor communities and, in most cases, are not aware of the constitutional law. Therefore, they are revictimized very often .
What abortion services are available in Bolivia?
How does the context affect abortion in Bolivia?
Context and abortion
The indices above aim to explain Bolivia’s context related to hunger and undernourishment, human rights violations, access to safe drinking water, access to clean fuels for cooking, the level of literacy gap between men and women, and economic inequality.
According to the presented data, if Bolivia is compared to other countries in the region, it still has some failures when it comes to the indicators. For example, hunger and undernourishment are still moderate. Thus, not all Bolivian population has their basic needs covered.
Another index that is worthy to take into account, is the one that exposes the level of literacy gap between men and women. As shown, the 2020 level of literacy in men was 96.5% whereas in women it was 88.6%. Consequently, men and women don’t have the same scholarship access.
Acknowledging this data helps understand Bolivia’s particular context. Therefore, the information is useful to analyze why people decide to continue or terminate the pregnancy. For example, in many instances, people would like to continue their pregnancy, but their social system doesn’t support them. Similarly, people would want to interrupt their pregnancy, but the system does not allow them or prosecutes them for it.
Knowledge and attitudes toward medical abortion in Bolivia
Given the socioeconomic and cultural situation of the country, sexual health and reproductive rights in Bolivia are not working the way they should. The most recent ruling about this is from 2017, which stated that in circumstances such as teen pregnancy, rape, sexual assault, incest, economic issues, or compromise of integral health, the law would allow voluntary interruption of the pregnancy up to the first eight weeks .
Nevertheless, as in other Latin American countries, the subject has led to discussions among different sectors. Bolivia is still a very conservative country, and acknowledging that is key to understanding why, even among the medical community, exists stigmatization towards it. According to Ipas Bolivia’s study ‘Las cifras hablan II’, out of 218 surveyed health providers, only 82% agreed with the improvements included in the 2017 abortion sentence .
Besides that, Bolivia has other issues to take into account. The paper ‘Sexual and reproductive rights for contraception in Colombia, Bolivia, and Uruguay in the framework of human rights’  claims that situations such as poverty and marginalization cause some communities to have difficulties accessing safe abortions. Furthermore, based on an Ombudsman’s Office of Bolivia 2020 report, not all health facilities in Bolivia have the proper installations, tools, and medicaments to successfully perform an abortion. Thus, even if the person is under the allowed circumstances to get a legal procedure, it is possible that due to the center’s lack of implementation, it would not proceed.
How did the pandemic influence abortion in Bolivia?
Impact of COVID-19
There is little official data about how COVID-19 impacted Bolivians’ sexual health and reproductive rights. However, acknowledging the UNFPA 2020  report about how the pandemic could affect women’s sexual and reproductive rights, it is clear that during the quarantine, women and girls were most likely to suffer sexual aggression and domestic violence. Thus, there was a concern about how COVID-19 and its socioeconomic implications would end in an increase in unintended pregnancy, especially in what comes to girls.
According to a 2020 article published in El Deber, during the first five months of 2020, the health ministry registered 13.000 pregnancies of under 19-years-old girls . This is problematic not only because of the high rate of teenage pregnancy but also because it is an underestimated figure. Not every pregnant woman gets prenatal care, and there is lack of information regarding cases of sexual assault, as those cases are underreported. Therefore, the rate is probably even higher.
Besides, it is hard for indigenous and marginalized communities in Bolivia to access primary care . Most of the time, the healthcare facilities close to their territories don’t have the necessary equipment to give them the required attention. Moreover, prenatal care, birth and abortion pills, and surgical abortion are really hard to get in normal scenarios. Hence, during the pandemic, the situation for sexual and reproductive care worsened.
What is the data gap in Bolivia?
What we don’t know
Although some data is available from the health system, NGOs provide more critical information. However, to draw a complete picture of the abortion situation in Bolivia studies would require answering the following questions:
How many abortions were performed before, during and after the pandemic?
*This page presents abortion data only for women and girls since the information available is usually not separated by gender. However, AbortionData.org acknowledges this limitation.
Where did we get the information?
 (S.F) Abortion regulation in América Latina. Gender Equality Observatory for Latin America and the Caribbean. Available at:
 (S.F) Unintended pregnancy and abortion in Bolivia. Guttmacher Institute. Available at:
 IPAS Bolivia (2018) Las cifras hablan II. Ipas Bolivia. La Paz, Bolivia. Available at:
 Corrales R (25-20-2022) Las engañosas estrategias de los centros antiaborto en Bolivia. Muy Waso. Available at: https://muywaso.com/el-aborto-legal-en-bolivia-y-los-objetores-de-conciencia-institucionalizados/
 Mamani E (14-12-2020) El aborto legal en Bolivia y los objetores de conciencia institucionalizados. My waso. Available at: https://muywaso.com/el-aborto-legal-en-bolivia-y-los-objetores-de-conciencia-institucionalizados/
 Cordoba-Pozo K et al., (2017) Sexual and reproductive rights for contraception in Colombia, Bolivia, and Uruguay in the framework of human rights. Revista Panam Salud Pública. Available at:
 Defensoría del Pueblo de Bolivia (2020) Informe defensorial. Situación de la interrupción legal del embarazo como derecho humano de las mujeres. Available at
 UNFPA (2020) Los riesgos de la pandemia del COVID-19 para el ejercicio de los derechos sexuales y reproductivos de las mujeres. Available at:
 Vincenti S. (20 -07-2020) Encerradas junto a sus agresores, así pasaron el confinamiento muchas niñas en Bolivia. El Deber, Bolivia. Available at:
 Muy Waso (30-09-2019) La cara siniestra del aborto en Bolivia. Available at:
 Rojas, G. D. F. R. (2022). Factores sociales, demográficos y gineco-obstétricos asociados al aborto inducido en mujeres bolivianas, periodo 2018-2022: Factores asociados al aborto inducido en Bolivia 2018-2022. Gaceta Médica Boliviana, 45(2), 128-134.