The World's Abortion Law

Women in Action, April 2008 | Go to article overview

The World's Abortion Law


Currently, 61 per cent of the world's people in countries where induced abortion is permitted either for a wide range of reasons or without restriction as to reason. In contrast, 26 per cent of all people reside in countries where abortion is generally prohibited.

Permitted to Save the Woman's Life or prohibited altogether

The most restrictive laws are those that either permit abortion only to save a woman's life or ban the procedure entirely. Many countries in this category explicitly permit abortion when a pregnancy threatens a woman's life. In other countries, laws that make no explicit exception are generally interpreted to permit abortion under life-threatening circumstances on the grounds of "necessity." Such an exception may also be recognised in national norms of medical ethics.

Countries which severely restrict abortion services. Those in bold allow abortion but in very limited circumstances.

Afghanistan#

Andorra

Angola

Antigua & Barbuda#

Bangladesh#

Bhutan-R/I/+#

Brazil-R#

Brunei Darussalam#

Central African Rep.

Chile-x

Congo (Brazzaville)

Cote d'Ivoire#

Dem. Rep, of Congo

Dominica#

Dominican Republic

Egypt

El Salvador- (x)

Gabon

Guatemala#

Guinea-Bissau

Haiti

Honduras

Indonesia

Iran

Iraq

Ireland#

Kenya#

Kiribati#

Laos

Lebanon#

Lesotho

Libya-PA#

Madagascar

Malawi-SA#

Mali-R/I#

Malta

Marshall Islands-U

Mauritania

Mauritius

Mexico- **** R/F#

Micronesia-U

Monaco

Myanmar#

Nicaragua- (x)

Niger

Nigeria

Oman

Palau-U

Panama-PA/R/F#

Papua New Guinea#

Paraguay#

Philippines

San Marino

Sao Tome & Principe

Senegal

Soloman Islands#

Somalia

Sri Lanka#

Sudan-R#

Suriname

Syria-SA/PA#

Tanzania#

Tonga

Tuvalu#

Uganda#

United Arab Emirates-SA/PA#

Venezuela#

West Bank & Gaza Strip#

Yemen#

69 Countries, 26% of World's Population

Note: Those in bold allow abortion but in very limited circumstances indicated with #.

Physical Health Grounds

Laws that authorise abortion to protect the pregnant woman's life and physical health form Category II. These laws sometimes require that the threatened injury to health be either serious or permanent. While laws in this category do not explicitly permit abortion to protect mental health, many are phrased broadly enough--referring simply to "health" or "therapeutic" indications--to be interpreted to allow abortion on mental health grounds.

Countries which explicitly allow abortion for health reasons

Argentina-R1

Bahamas

Benin-R/I/F

Bolivia-R/I

Burkina Faso-R/I/F

Burundi

Cameroon-R

Chad-F

Comoros

Costa Rica

Djibouti

Ecuador- R1

Equatorial

Guinea-SA/PA

Eritrea - R/I

Ethiopia-R/I/Fl (+)

Grenada

Guinea-R/I/F

Jordan

Kuwait-SA/PA/F

Liechtenstein- (+)

Maldives-SA

Morocco-SA

Mozambique

Pakistan

Peru

Poland-PA/R/I/F

Qatar-F

Rep. of Korea-SA/R/I/F

Rwanda

Saudi Arabia-SA/PA

Togo-R/I/F

Uruguay-R

Vanuatu

Zimbabwe-R/I/F

34 Countries, 9.4% of World's Population

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

MentalHealth Grounds

Laws in Category III expressly permit abortion to protect the woman's mental health, as well as her life and physical health.

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