Living Abroad

The Abortion Laws: Which Countries Allow Abortion

Updated: 27 June 2022

Significant progress has been achieved in guaranteeing women’s access to abortion over the past few decades, with approximately 50 countries liberalizing their abortion laws. Some of this change has been gradual, allowing women to seek legal abortion only in life-threatening situations or when rape caused their pregnancy. However, a lot of these modifications have been transformational, removing all restrictions on abortion in favor of women’s reproductive freedom.

Nearly 90% of nations worldwide permit abortions, at the very least when the woman’s life is in danger. Most nations that permit abortion when a woman’s life is in danger also permit abortion for other reasons, such as when a woman’s health is at risk during pregnancy and in situations of rape or incest.

Here is the list of countries where abortion is permitted and those where it is completely prohibited, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, an organization that fights for reproductive rights worldwide.

Countries That Allow Abortion

Although gestational limits may vary, below are the countries that allow abortion. Note that in some countries, parental or spouse authorization is required. 

AlbaniaCubaIrelandNew CaledoniaSpain
ArgentinaCyprusItalyNew ZealandSweden
ArmeniaCzech Rep.KazakhstanNorthern IrelandSwitzerland
AustraliaDem. People’s Rep. of KoreaKosovoNorwayTajikistan
AzerbaijanEstoniaLatviaPuerto RicoTunisia
BelarusFranceLithuaniaRepublic of North Macedonia (formerly Macedonia)Turkey
BelgiumFrench GuianaLuxembourgRomaniaTurkmenistan
Bosnia-HerzegovinaGeorgiaMaldivesRussian Fed.Ukraine
BulgariaGermanyMoldovaSao Tome & PrincipeThe United States*
Cape VerdeGuyanaMozambiqueSlovak Rep.Vietnam
CroatiaIcelandNetherlandsSouth Africa
Total: 73 countries

*The Roe v. Wade decision, which established the constitutional right to an abortion in the United States, was overruled by the US Supreme Court on June 24.

In some countries, such as France, abortion is covered by most health insurance plans. Also, in most countries, there are organizations that offer support to women who are considering or have had abortions. These organizations can provide information about the procedure, help women find a qualified doctor, and offer emotional support.

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Countries That Allow Abortion on Socioeconomic Grounds

Some countries permit abortion depending on the woman’s social or economic situation and taking into account the potential effects of pregnancy and childbearing. These countries are:

FijiSaint Vincent and the Grenadines
Finland Taiwan
Great BritainZambia
Hong Kong 

Countries That Allow Abortion When the Woman’s Life Is at Risk

The laws of the nations in this group allow abortions when a woman’s life is in danger. For instance, abortion is prohibited in Brazil, with the exception of situations involving rape, dangers to the mother’s life, or anencephaly, a condition in which the fetus lacks part of the brain or skull. In such circumstances, the lady requires consent from a physician and at least three more clinical specialists.

Antigua & BarbudaCôte d’IvoireKiribatiMicronesiaSolomon IslandsTimor-Leste
BangladeshGabonLibyaNigeriaSouth SudanUganda
BhutanGambiaMalawiOmanSri LankaUnited Arab Emirates (UAE)
Brunei DarussalamIndonesiaMarshall IslandsPapua New GuineaSyriaYemen
Total: 42 countries

Countries That Prohibit Abortion 

There are 24 nations in the world where abortion is totally outlawed. In Europe, these are Andorra and Malta, in Central America, El Salvador, and Honduras, in Africa, Senegal and Egypt, and in Asia, the Philippines and Laos. 90 million (5%) of all women of reproductive age reside in nations that outlaw abortion completely.

The laws of the countries in the below group forbid abortion in any situation, even when the woman’s life or health is in danger.

AndorraEl SalvadorMadagascarSan Marino
Congo (Brazzaville)HondurasMauritaniaSierra Leone
Dominican RepublicJamaicaPalauTonga
EgyptLaosPhilippinesWest Bank & Gaza Strip
Total: 24 countries

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that there is little to no correlation between global abortion rates and the legality of abortion worldwide. Abortions may, will, and do happen whether they are legal or not. However, the safety of those abortions is impacted by their legality. The illegal or “homemade” abortion choices that women who do not have access to a legal abortion regularly choose are typically far riskier, riskier, and less successful than legal options carried out by qualified medical professionals in a clinical setting would be.

According to the reports by The Center for Reproductive Rights, 970 million women, or 59% of women of reproductive age, reside in nations with lax restrictions on abortion. Despite the fact that the majority of women reside in nations where they have access to abortions, 41% of women don’t. 700 million women of reproductive age are impacted by the inability to obtain safe and legal abortion services.

Source: The Center for Reproductive Rights 

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