Worldwide, abortion is completely banned in 22 countries, which means that six percent of women of reproductive age live in a country that does not allow abortion under any circumstances. Among European countries, Poland, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and Malta have the most restrictive abortion laws, the latter of which recently eased the regulations.
According to the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), over the past 30 years, more than 60 countries around the world have relaxed their abortion laws, and only four have tightened them – these are United StatesEl Salvador, Nicaragua and Poland.
Abortion in Poland – when is it allowed?
The current legal status allows only two situations in which abortion is possible in Poland. Pursuant to the Act on family planning, protection of the human fetus and conditions for the admissibility of termination of pregnancy, termination of pregnancy may only be performed by a physician if:
- pregnancy poses a threat to the life or health of the pregnant woman
- there is a reasonable suspicion that the pregnancy resulted from a prohibited act.
The third condition, which was in force until recently, according to which pregnancy could be terminated when prenatal tests or other medical grounds indicated the likelihood of severe and irreversible impairment of the fetus or an incurable disease threatening its life, was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Tribunal of Julia Przyłębska in October 2020. This judgment was published in the Journal of Laws on January 27, 2021. This means that despite a severe fetal defect, the woman must give birth.
The current law was passed in 1993 and was called by many the abortion compromise. Until then, the Act of 1956 was in force, which allowed abortion due to medical indications, difficult living conditions of a pregnant woman or when there was a reasonable suspicion that the pregnancy was the result of a crime.
Abortion rights around the world
As available in July 2023, up to date updated CRR data, abortion is completely banned in 22 countries or territories. These include Andorra, Congo, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Philippines, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, Jamaica, Laos, Madagascar, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Palau, El Salvador, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Suriname, Tonga. In total, about 91 million women (6 percent) of reproductive age live in countries with a ban on abortion.
IN 43 countries and territories abortion is only allowed if when a woman’s life is in danger. This group includes mainly countries from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania, including: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, Iran, Paraguay, Nigeria, Somalia, Sri LankaUganda or Tanzania. This category also includes countries that consider saving a woman’s life – and allow abortion – in the case of rape, incest and fetal defects. In total, around 358 million women (22%) of reproductive age live in this category.
The next group of countries are those in which pregnancy can be terminated when the woman’s health is at risk. Among 47 among them are Algeria, Saudi ArabiaKenya Peru, Pakistan as well Polandas the only country in the European Union. This group also includes states that explicitly allow abortion to preserve a woman’s mental health. For example, Angola, Botswana and Namibia (which also recognize abortion in cases of rape, incest and fetal defects). Conversely, countries that only recognize physical health in this respect include Zimbabwe and Monaco. In total, around 240 million women (14%) of reproductive age live in this category.
It was in the next category 12 countries. In addition to the prerequisites listed in the previous two categories, i.e. saving the life and health of a woman, they recognize the impact of a woman’s socioeconomic situationwhich may be grounds for terminating the pregnancy. This includes Barbados, Ethiopia, India and Taiwan (recognising abortion also in the case of rape, incest and fetal defects) and Japan (recognizing abortion also in the case of rape) or Finland (recognizing abortion also in the case of rape and fetal defects). In total, around 386 million women (24%) of reproductive age live in this category.
77 countries world allows abortion in any situation, usually by the 12th week of pregnancy. These include most European countries, as well as China, Colombia and Singapore (both up to week 24), Canada, New Zealand (until week 20) or South Korea. In total, around 590 million women (36%) of reproductive age live in this category.
The Center for Reproductive Rights points out that Abortion laws in the US and Mexico are very different depending on the state – there are regions where abortion is allowed on demand, and others where it is only possible if the life of the mother is in danger.
Abortion in Europe
In Europe, 95 percent of women of reproductive age live in countries that allow abortion for no reason. Almost all countries of the Old Continent allow it on request or on the basis of broad premises, at least in the first trimester of pregnancy. Almost all of them also guarantee that abortion is legal throughout pregnancy if the health or life of the mother is at risk.
Almost, because the exceptions are countries where abortion law remains restrictive. In the European Union, they are only Poland (law defined by the CRR as “highly restrictive”) i Malta (in which, until recently, there was a total ban on abortion, but at the end of June the parliament allowed it to be performed in the event of a threat to the woman’s life). Finland, on the other hand, does not allow abortion on demand, but allows it in cases of rape, fetal malformation or on broad socio-economic grounds.
Across the continent, almost all countries allow abortion on demand. The exception is Andorrawhich has a complete ban on abortion as well Liechtensteinwhich admits it only to preserve the woman’s health or in cases of rape, and Monaco (which permits it in order to preserve the woman’s physical health, in cases of incest, rape and fetal malformations). In the UK, abortion can be performed in the case of fetal defects or socio-economic reasons. Other European countries allow abortion on demand.
isap.sejm.gov.pl, tvn24.pl, reproductiverights.org
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