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Abortion laws around the world

In 2021, many women still do not have the right to make choices about their own bodies. Around the world, whilst abortions are legal under certain circumstances in almost all countries, the conditions in which a woman can legally have one significantly vary. Abortion is legal in 98% of countries to save a woman's life, 72% of countries for preserving physical health, 69% of countries for protecting mental health, but in cases of rape or incest the countries in which abortion is legal is only 61% and in cases of fetal impairment only 61%.


These percentages do not reflect a woman's choice to have control over what happens to her body. Performing an abortion due to social and economical reasons is only legal in 37% of countries and performing an abortion on the basis of a woman’s request is only legal in 34% of countries.


This topic is extremely sensitive and contentious. When diving deeper, not only does the right to have an abortion bring up cultural, social, economic and religious questions, but also many emotions for women who have either had an abortion, have not been permitted to have one or live in countries and or societies where they do not have access to one.

A study by Guttmacher Institute researchers in 2019 revealed that in the US, nearly 1 in 4 women before the age of 45 will have had an abortion. Their study also found that unintended pregnancy rates are highest in countries that restrict abortion access and lowest in countries where abortion is broadly legal.


In Abkhazia, Andorra, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Malta, Nicaragua, and the Vatican City abortion is illegal under all circumstances, even if there is a threat to life. In countries where you would expect freedom of choice for all women under all circumstances, this is not necessarily the case.


European countries are often viewed as progressive and pioneers in the fight for gender equality by the rest of the world. But in the UK, doctors have the right to refuse to sign off on abortion if they have a moral objection to it. This can mean that a woman may need to see more than two doctors to get the two signatures in order to have her termination. In Finland, officially abortion is not legal upon request, but it is stated that in reality, any pregnant individual can have an abortion if it is requested before the 12th week of pregnancy.


In Andorra, abortion is illegal in all cases. It is one of the few European countries where abortions are illegal even for the preservation of maternal life. In Andorra, a woman who performs an abortion on herself or gives consent to another person to perform an abortion is subject to up two and a half years imprisonment.