Countries Where Abortion Is Illegal or Restricted
TThe Supreme Court is said to be considering overturning this landmark Roe V. WadeA draft opinion that was leaked shows a ruling regarding abortion rights. If the plan is implemented, abortion won’t be considered a right under the Constitution of the United States. Each state can decide the legality.
1973 Roe V. WadeThe United States granted women an absolute right of abortion within the first three months. They also gave them limited rights after that. Abortion is legally allowed in all states, except for the District of Columbia. Roe, Over the past decade, abortion access in over a dozen US states has declined. Texas for instance, passed in 2021 an act that allows residents to sue clinics or doctors who perform abortions after they have been performed for six weeks. In Mississippi—the state at the center of the Supreme Court case—most abortions are banned after 15 weeks.
Continue reading: The Leaked Roe V. Wade Supreme Court Draft Opinion
In many countries, the rollback in abortion rights has been replicated in other nations around the globe. This is because the growth of pro-life movements coincides with dramatic cultural and political changes. In other countries, abortion rights activists have succeeded in pushing for less restrictive laws as part of a broader fight for women’s rights.
This list shows countries in which abortion has been legally legalized or restricted.
In countries where it is legal to perform abortions
The Center for Reproductive Rights is a worldwide legal advocacy group that identifies 24 countries where it’s illegal to perform abortions. This includes Andorra, Malta, El Salvador, Honduras, Senegal, Egypt, the Philippines, Laos, in Asia, Malta, Malta, Malta, Malta, Malta, Malta, Malta, El Salvador, Honduras, Central America and El Salvador, as well as Senegal, Egypt, Egypt, and Senegal in Africa. About 90 million (5%) women are of reproductive age in countries that ban all forms of abortion.
Many of these countries have activists and campaigners who continue fighting to reduce restrictions on abortion. The hardline laws in El Salvador, which were introduced in 1998 after campaigning from conservative sectors of the Catholic Church, have led to dozens of women being found guilty of “aggravated homicide,” even in cases of miscarriage. In March, thousands of Salvadoran women marched to demand that the ban be eased to allow abortions in cases of rape, when the fetus is not viable, or if the woman’s life is at risk.
There are countries that have significant restrictions on abortion access
More than 50 countries and regions permit abortions only when the woman’s health is at risk. These can be interpreted as referring to either physical or mental health. This includes Nigeria, Iran, Venezuela, Indonesia and Venezuela. There are exceptions available for cases of incest or rape.
In Brazil, for example, abortion is illegal except in cases of rape, risks to the life of the mother, or when the fetus has anencephaly—missing part of the brain or skull. The woman must have the approval of a doctor, at least 3 other medical experts and at minimum two others in these situations. In August 2020, under President Bolsonaro’s far-right government, a Health Ministry regulation was introduced that requires medical professionals to collect evidence and report to the police anyone who seeks legal termination of a pregnancy after rape—which Human Rights Watch suggests is to dissuade rape survivors.
At a demonstration against the Oct. 30th 2020 ruling of Warsaw’s Constitutional Court on tightening abortion laws, a woman holds an EU flag.
Omar Marques/Getty Images
In January 2021, a near-total ban on abortion was introduced in Poland, only allowing the procedure in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is at risk. The ban removed the exception for an abortion in cases of severe and irreversible fetal abnormalities—the grounds for which 98% of abortions in Poland were carried out in 2019. In Poland, protests broke out following the November 2021 death of 22-weeks pregnant woman from sepsis. The family of this victim claimed the ban delayed the delivery of life-saving treatments. The first pro-abortion activist charged under the new law was brought to trial this month for giving a woman tablets that caused miscarriage.
Access to abortion is easier in countries with greater access
Center for Reproductive Rights says that in most countries, including Japan, India, Canada and many of Europe, over half of the women who are reproductively capable can access safe abortion on their own request, or for a broad range of social or economic reasons.
Seventy-two countries, including France and Germany, allow for abortion subject to gestational time limits—the most common being 12 weeks. There are many exceptions which allow for abortions to be performed later than usual in these countries. In the U.K. for example, there is a 24-week limit on abortion, but if the fetus has a disability such as Down’s Syndrome, the pregnancy can be terminated right up until birth.
Continue reading: Roe V. Wade’s Unacceptable Consequences
Other countries are moving towards more freedoms, despite the fact that pro-life groups in Poland and the U.S. successfully lobby for restrictions on reproductive rights. In the past 18 months, Colombia, Argentina, and Mexico—traditionally conservative Catholic countries in Latin America—decriminalized abortions following waves of protests and campaigning by women’s rights and pro-choice groups. Colombia was the latest to set the legal gestational limits at 24 weeks in February.
The changes have inspired other pro-choice movements in the region—dubbed the “green wave” for the colors worn by campaigners. Chile could become the first Latin American country to have the right to abortion enshrined in the country’s constitution, pending the results of a vote later this year.
After a May 2018 referendum, Ireland was the focus of attention in Europe. It legalized abortion for 12 weeks and only limited situations beyond that. Detail Data in Belfast claims that before the law change thousands of Irish women traveled to England each year to undergo the procedure.
New Zealand legalized abortion in 2020. The law was extended to 20 weeks. Prior to that, two doctors were required to approve an abortion—and they would only do so if there was a “serious danger” to the woman’s health.
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