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International status of abortion law      Legal on request      Legal for rape, maternal life, health, mental health, socioeconomic factors, and/or fetal defects      Legal for or illegal with exception for rape, maternal life, health, fetal defects, and/or mental health      Illegal with exception for rape, maternal life, health, and/or mental health      Illegal with exception for maternal life, health, and/or mental health      Illegal with no exceptions      Varies by region      No information

Abortion law is legislation which pertains to the provision of abortion. Abortion has been a controversial subject in societies around the world because of the moral and ethical issues that surround it, though other considerations, such as a state's pro- or antinatalist policies or questions of inheritance and patriarchy, also dictate abortion law and regulation. It has been regularly banned and otherwise limited, though abortions have continued to be commonplace in many areas where it is illegal. Almost 2/3 of the world’s women currently reside in countries where abortion may be obtained on request for a broad range of social, economic or personal reasons. Abortion laws vary widely by country, ranging from those in Chile, El Salvador, Malta, Nicaragua and Vatican City, which ban the procedure entirely, to those in Canada, the United States, and many more which place no restrictions on the provision of abortion. Both supporters and opponents of legal abortion believe their position addresses a fundamental human right. Pro-Choice activists argue that a woman has a right to abortion, and that doctors should be allowed to abort a life threatening pregnancy, or in cases of rape and incest. Pro-Life activists argue that abortion denies an embryo or fetus the right to live.

Contents

History

Abortion and contraception have been widely available throughout Western history, despite ethical concerns. Plato and Aristotle both argued in favor of compulsory abortion under certain circumstances, though Hippocrates expressly disapproved of the practice. Under Roman law, abortion sometimes occurred but family planning was conducted mainly through the exposure of healthy newborns—usually to protect the rights and interests of the biological father. References to abortion were included in the writings of Ovid, Seneca, Juvenal and Pliny, who included a list of abortifacients (drugs that induce an abortion) in one text. Early Christian philosophers, including Ivo of Chartres and Gratian, disapproved of abortion when it broke the link between copulation and procreation but argued that abortion of what Ivo termed an "unformed embryo" did not constitute homicide.

Religious authorities have taken various positions on abortion throughout history (see Religion and abortion). In 1588, Pope Sixtus V adopted a papal bull adopting the position of St. Thomas Aquinas that contraception and abortion were crimes against nature and sins against marriage. This verdict was relaxed three years later by Pope Gregory XIV, who pronounced that abortion before "hominization" should not be subject to church penalties that were any stricter than civil penalties (Codicis iuris fontes, ed. P. Gasparri, vol. 1 (Rome, 1927), pp. 330-331). Common law positions on abortion in individual countries varied significantly from country to country.

As a matter of common law in England and the United States, abortion was illegal anytime after quickening – when the movements of the fetus could first be felt by the woman. In the 19th century, many Western countries began to use statutes to codify or further restrictions on abortion. Anti-abortion forces were led by a combination of conservative groups opposed to abortion on moral grounds and medical professionals who were concerned about the danger presented by the procedure and the regular involvement of non-medical personnel in performing abortions.

It became clear in the following years, however, that illegal abortions continued to take place in large numbers even where abortions were expressly illegal. It was difficult to obtain sufficient evidence to prosecute the women and abortion doctors, and judges and juries were often reluctant to convict. Henry Morgentaler, for instance, was never convicted by a jury. (He was acquitted by a jury in the 1973 court case, but the acquittal was overturned by five judges on the Quebec Court of Appeal in 1974. He went to prison, appealed, and was again acquitted. In total, he served 10 months, suffering a heart attack while in solitary confinement. Many were also outraged at the invasion of privacy and the medical problems resulting from abortions taking place illegally in medically dangerous circumstances. Political movements soon coalesced around the legalization of abortion and liberalization of existing laws.

By the early 20th century, many countries had begun to legalize abortions when performed to protect the life of the woman, and in some cases to protect the health of the woman. Under Vladimir Lenin, the Soviet Union legalized all abortions in 1920, but this was fully reversed in 1936 by Joseph Stalin in order to increase population growth. In the 1930s, several countries (Poland, Turkey, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Mexico) legalized abortion in some special cases (rape, threat to mother's health, fetal malformation). In 1948 abortion was legalized in Japan, 1952 in Yugoslavia (on a limited basis) and 1955 in the Soviet Union (on demand). Some Soviet allies (Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Romania) legalized abortion in the late fifties under Soviet pressure. The adoption of contraceptives the 1950s and 1960s in Western countries resulted in comparatively few statutory changes on abortion law. In Great Britain, the Abortion Act of 1967 clarified and prescribed abortions as legal up to 28 weeks. Other countries soon followed, including Canada (1969), the United States (1973 in most states, pursuant to the federal Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion nationwide), France (1975), Austria (1975), New Zealand (1977), Italy (1978), the Netherlands (1980) and Belgium (1990). However, these countries vary greatly in the circumstances under which abortion is permitted. In 1975, the West German Supreme Court struck down a law legalizing abortion, holding that they contradict the constitution's human rights guarantees. After Germany's reunification, despite the legal status of abortion in the former East Germany, a compromise was reached which deemed most abortions illegal, but prosecutions not performed.

International law

In addition to national and regional laws, there are treaties that may actually be enforced on or within their parties. However, there is an inherent difficulty in the enforcement of international law due to the issue that state sovereignty poses. As such, the effectiveness of even binding multi-national efforts to legislate the rights to life and liberty in general, or abortion in specific, is difficult to measure.

National laws

The following series of tables present the current abortion legislation of the world's nations as divided by continent. Actual access to abortion may vary significantly on the basis of geography, income, cost, health care, social factors, and other issues. Many jurisdictions also place other restrictions on abortion access, including waiting periods, the provision of information, the assent of multiple doctors, and spousal or parental notification.

Legend

  • Yes - Legal
  • No - Illegal
  • 1st - Legal during 1st trimester only (exact date – e.g. number of weeks – may vary)
  • 2nd - Legal during 1st and 2nd trimester only (exact date may vary)
  • Restricted - Legal but subject to significant restrictions
  • Varies - Varies by region
  •  ? - Information is unavailable or the law is too ambiguous


Africa

Country To protect woman's life Physical health Mental health Rape Fetal defects Socio-economic factors On request
AlgeriaAlgeria Yes 2nd 2nd No No No No
AngolaAngola 1st No No No No No No
BeninBenin Yes No ? Yes Yes No No
BotswanaBotswana Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Burkina FasoBurkina Faso Yes Yes Yes 1st Yes No No
BurundiBurundi Yes Yes ? No No No No
CameroonCameroon Yes Yes ? Yes No No No
Cape VerdeCape Verde Yes Yes Yes 1st Yes 1st 1st
Central African RepublicCentral African Republic Yes No No No No No No
ChadChad Yes Yes ? No Yes No No
ComorosComoros Yes Yes ? No No No No
Republic of the CongoRepublic of the Congo Yes No No No No No No
Democratic Republic of the CongoDemocratic Republic of the Congo Yes No No No No No No
Côte d'IvoireCôte d'Ivoire Yes No No No No No No
DjiboutiDjibouti Yes ? ? No No No No
EgyptEgypt Restricted No No No No No No
Equatorial GuineaEquatorial Guinea Yes Yes ? No No No No
EritreaEritrea Yes Yes ? No No No No
EthiopiaEthiopia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
GabonGabon Yes No No No No No No
The GambiaGambia Yes Yes Yes No No No No
GhanaGhana Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
GuineaGuinea Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Guinea-BissauGuinea-Bissau Yes 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
KenyaKenya Restricted Restricted Restricted No No No No
LesothoLesotho Yes No No No No No No
LiberiaLiberia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
LibyaLibya Yes No No No No No No
MadagascarMadagascar Yes No No No No No No
MalawiMalawi Restricted No No No No No No
MaliMali Yes No No Yes No No No
MauritaniaMauritania Yes No No No No No No
MauritiusMauritius Yes No No No No No No
MoroccoMorocco 1st 1st 1st No No No No
MozambiqueMozambique Yes Yes Yes No No No 1st (illegal, but selectively allowed)[1]
NamibiaNamibia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
NigerNiger No No No No No No No
NigeriaNigeria Yes Yes Yes No No No No
RwandaRwanda Yes Yes Yes No No No No
São Tomé and PríncipeSão Tomé and Príncipe 1st No No No No No No
SenegalSenegal Yes No No No No No No
SeychellesSeychelles 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st No No
Sierra LeoneSierra Leone Yes Yes Yes No No No No
SomaliaSomalia Yes No No No No No No
South AfricaSouth Africa (details) 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st
SudanSudan Yes No No Yes No No No
SwazilandSwaziland Yes No No No No No No
TanzaniaTanzania Yes Yes Yes No No No No
TogoTogo 1st ? ? ? ? No No
TunisiaTunisia Yes 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
UgandaUganda Yes Yes Yes No No No No
Western SaharaWestern Sahara ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
ZambiaZambia Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
ZimbabweZimbabwe Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No

Asia

Eastern

Country To protect woman's life Physical health Mental health Rape Fetal defects Socio-economic factors On request
Brunei Yes No No No No No No
Cambodia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mainland China Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hong Kong [2] Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No
Taiwan Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Law is unclear
Indonesia Yes No No No No No No
Japan (details) Yes 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd
People's Dem. Rep. of (North) Korea Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Republic of (South) Korea [3] Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No (but not punished)
Laos No No No No No No No
Malaysia 1st 1st 1st No No No No
Mongolia Restricted Restricted 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
Myanmar Yes No No No No No No
Philippines (details) Yes No No No No No No
Singapore Yes Yes Yes 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd
Thailand Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No
Vietnam Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Central

Country To protect woman's life Physical health Mental health Rape Fetal defects Socio-economic factors On request
Afghanistan Yes No No No No No No
Bangladesh Yes 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
Bhutan[4] Yes No No No No No No
India (details) Yes Yes 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd No
Kazakhstan 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st
Kyrgyzstan 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st
Nepal Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 1st 1st
Pakistan Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No
Sri Lanka Yes No No No No No No
Tajikistan 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st
Turkmenistan 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st
Uzbekistan 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st

Southwestern

Country To protect woman's life Physical health Mental health Rape Fetal defects Socio-economic factors On request
Bahrain Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Iran (details) Yes No No No No No No
Iraq Yes No No No No No No
Israel (details) Varies Varies Varies Varies Varies Varies Varies
Jordan Restricted Restricted Restricted No No No No
Kuwait Restricted Restricted Restricted No Restricted No No
Lebanon Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Varies
Oman Yes No No No No No No
Qatar Yes Yes Yes No Restricted No No
Saudi Arabia 1st Restricted Restricted No No No No
Syria Restricted No No No No No No
United Arab Emirates Restricted No No No No No No
Yemen Yes No No No No No No

Europe

Western

Country To protect woman's life Physical health Mental health Rape Fetal defects Socio-economic factors On request
Andorra Yes No No No No No No
Austria Yes Yes Yes 1st Yes 1st 1st [5]
Belgium Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Denmark Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes[6]
Faroe Islands 2nd No No 2nd 2nd No No
France (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Germany (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes 1st 1st 1st
Iceland (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ireland (details) Yes No No No No No No
Italy (details) Yes Yes Yes 1st Yes 1st 1st
Liechtenstein Yes Yes Yes No No No No
Luxembourg Yes Restricted Restricted Restricted Restricted Restricted No
Malta No No No No No No No
Monaco Yes No No No No No No
Netherlands (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Norway (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Northern Ireland[7](details) Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No
Portugal Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
San Marino Yes No No No No No No
Spain Yes Yes Yes 1st 2nd No No
Sweden (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Switzerland (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland; details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 2nd (de facto, de jure No)
Vatican City No No No No No No No

Eastern

Country To protect woman's life Physical health Mental health Rape Fetal defects Socio-economic factors On request
Albania Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Armenia 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st
Azerbaijan Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 1st
Belarus Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bosnia and Herzegovina Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bulgaria Yes 2nd 1st 1st Yes 1st 1st
Croatia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cyprus Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes ? No
Czech Republic (details) 2nd 2nd 1st 1st 2nd 1st 1st
Estonia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Finland (details) Yes Yes Yes 2nd 2nd 2nd Yes
Georgia 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st
Greece Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hungary Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Latvia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Lithuania Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Republic of Macedonia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Moldova Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 1st
Montenegro Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Poland (details) 2nd 2nd No 1st 2nd No No
Romania (details) Yes Yes 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
Russia (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 2nd 1st
Serbia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Slovakia 2nd 2nd 1st 2nd 2nd 1st 1st
Slovenia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Turkey Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ukraine 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st

North America

Country To protect woman's life Physical health Mental health Rape Fetal defects Socio-economic factors On request
Antigua and Barbuda 1st No No No No No No
Bahamas Yes Yes Yes ? ? No No
Barbados Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Belize Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Canada (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Costa Rica Yes Yes ? No No No No
Cuba 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
Dominica Yes No No No No No No
Dominican Republic (details) No No No No No No No
El Salvador (details) No No No No No No -
Grenada Yes Yes Yes No No No No
Guatemala (details) Yes No No No No No No
Haiti Yes ? No ? ? No No
Honduras Restricted No No No No No No
Jamaica Restricted Restricted Restricted No No No No
Mexico (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Varies
Nicaragua (details) No No No No No No No
Panama Yes Yes No 1st Yes No No
Saint Kitts and Nevis Yes Yes Yes No No No No
Saint Lucia Yes Yes Yes No No No No
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Trinidad and Tobago Yes Yes Yes No No No No
United States (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Oceania

Country To protect woman's life Physical health Mental health Rape Fetal defects Socio-economic factors On request
Australia (details) Varies Varies Varies Varies Varies Varies Varies
Cook Islands Yes Yes Yes No No No No
Fiji Yes Yes Yes ? ? Yes No
Kiribati Yes No No No No No No
Maldives No No No No No No No
Marshall Islands Restricted No No No No No No
Federated States of Micronesia Yes No No No No No No
Nauru Restricted Restricted Restricted No No No No
New Zealand (details) Yes 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd Restricted No
Niue Yes ? ? No No No No
Palau Yes No No No No No No
Papua New Guinea Restricted Restricted Restricted No No No No
Samoa Yes Yes Yes No No No No
Solomon Islands Restricted No No No No No No
Tonga Yes No No No No No No
Tuvalu No No No No No No No
Vanuatu Yes Yes Yes No No No No

South America

Country To protect woman's life Physical health Mental health Rape Fetal defects Socio-economic factors On request
Argentina (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No
Bolivia Yes Yes ? Yes No No No
Brazil (details) No No No No No No No
Chile (details) No No No No No No No
Colombia Yes Yes ? Yes Yes No No
Ecuador Yes Yes Yes Restricted No No No
Guyana Yes Yes Yes Yes 1st 1st 1st
Paraguay Yes No No No No No No
Peru Yes Yes Yes No No No No
Suriname Yes No No No No No No
Uruguay Yes Yes 1st 1st No 1st No
Venezuela Yes No No No No No No

Legal restrictions on later abortion

As of 1998, among the 152 most populous countries, 54 either banned abortion entirely or permitted it only to save the life of the pregnant woman.[8] In contrast, another 44 of the 152 most populous countries generally banned late-term abortions after a particular gestational age: 12 weeks (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Greece, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and the former Yugoslavia), 13 weeks (Italy), 14 weeks (Austria, Belgium, Cambodia, Germany, Hungary, and Romania), 18 weeks (Sweden), viability (Netherlands and to some extent the United States), and 24 weeks (Singapore and the United Kingdom [Northern Ireland excluded]).[8]

Case law

Australia

Bangladesh

Chancery Law Chronicles- First Bangladesh Online Case Law Database [1]

Canada

Germany

Ireland

United States

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Libombo, Aida, &, Bay Ustá, Momade. (2001). Mozambique Abortion Situation. Retrieved October 27, 2006.
  2. ^ According to the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Despite Hong Kong technically being part of the People's Republic of China, it still maintains its own legal system and practices English Common Law. As such, the majority of Chinese laws do not apply in Hong Kong. The power of final judgment are vested in the court of final appeal of Hong Kong.
  3. ^ The Korean Law Blog (2007). Abortion in Korea. Retrieved October 3, 2007.
  4. ^ World Health Organization. (2005). Improving Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health in the South-East Asia Region. Retrieved October 3, 2007.
  5. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6235557.stm#denmark
  6. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6235557.stm#denmark
  7. ^ Q&A: Abortion in NI. (June 13 , 2001). BBC News. Retrieved October 27, 2006.
  8. ^ a b Anika Rahman, Laura Katzive and Stanley K. Henshaw. A Global Review of Laws on Induced Abortion, 1985-1997, International Family Planning Perspectives (Volume 24, Number 2, June 1998).

References

External links








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