Countries where abortion is legal: The conversation on issues regarding abortion continues to gain momentum with each year. The earlier Anglo-American division of pro-life and pro-choice has further disintegrated to make room for more politically relevant debates such as periods or conditions; the most being a question of what is/should be criminal and what is not. What this means is that, between the countries that have legalised abortion, there still remains a faction that is of the opinion that abortion should be illegal, once it is past a certain period.
In total, there are 63 countries where women are allowed to request for adoption. However, with the exception of Canada, there are conditions and reasons provided by law for such request.
Furthermore, there is a period in which the request would be lawful and permitted in these territories. The traditional legal ground for allowing abortion is in situations where such termination is to preserve the life of the mother. It could also be allowed of grounds of protecting the mental health of mothers, and to avoid physical incapacitation where there is a reason for such belief.
In fewer countries, the defence of abnormal circumstances can stand. These circumstances include rape, incest, impregnation based on deceit, etc. Finally, the smallest of this faction make room for cases of foetal anomaly.
On the other hand, you have countries that have remained insistent on their draconian laws to criminalize abortion; with some penalties stretching to almost 30 years for ‘aggravated homicide’ and related offences.
The connecting factor between countries that have insisted on keeping their laws is the subject of religious belief. Take the Vatican City for example. There, all forms of termination are illegal and deeply criminalized. No condition is valid enough to stand as a defense for them because of Catholicism/Christainity. Countries where abortion is illegal includes; Malta, Nicaragua, El Salvado and Dominic Republic.
Top 13 Countries Where Abortion is Legal 2023
1. China: One of the greatest things the Chinese government has done in terms of termination of pregnancy is the declaration that selective abortion was now illegal in the country.
2. Mexico: In Mexico, one of the largest roman catholic countries, a court ruling this year stopped women from getting victimized or dragged to the coffers of justice for requesting for abortion.
3. United States: Prior to 2022, the abortion was fully lawful in all parts of the United States. A woman could validly procure a termination for a period that stretches up to 24 weeks (in a majority of States). However, earlier this year, a law was passed in Texas, outlawing procurement in a period that exceeds six weeks. This law also added various regulatory provisions that would essentially make it difficult for a woman to request for termination by herself in a period that she might now even be aware of her pregnancy.
Currently, a national protest is ongoing on social media, and in real time against such law. Activists are of the opinion that such archaic law would only frustrate the rights of women living in Texas.
4. Argentina: Argentina resisted pressure from the Catholic Church, and finally passed into law the first provision on abortion. In the new law, requested termination is lawful as for a period of twelve weeks.
After that, any reason apart from those legally provide for, would attract a certain penalty. There are no much differences between their legal defences and that of other progressive countries. They became the first Latin country to go in this direction.
5. Poland: In Poland, abortion has now been legalized with the time-restriction or twelve weeks or more if within legal defenses.
6. Slovakia: In Slovakia, a bill further regulating abortion was almost passed into law by the legislation. This bill, if passed, may not have banned abortion withing lawful periods, but it would have further regulated the processes surrounding such request, and lengthened the wait periods.
The latter would not only have discouraged several patients into indignation, but also would have dragged on some patients in their first trimesters to a period exceeding the already provided 12 weeks.
7. Thailand: In 2021, the court in Thailand held that the predating laws providing for the illegality of proscribed termination was unconstitutional. In January this year, the legislation went a step further to pass into law, provisions that allow for termination for a period not exceeding 12 weeks.
Where any requested abortion exceeds the prescribed time frame, such person would be penalized in form of a fine. After a series of debates and national discuss, the law was amended to provided for circumstances that would warrant termination after twelve weeks.
8. Canada: Canada stands as the best country for adoption because of the lack of time restriction for elective abortion. There, a pregnant woman can terminate whenever she wants, and without the requirement of valid reasons. It essentially goes to say that doctors can remove pregnancy when such carriage would be at mothers’ risk.
Sidebar: Even with the lack of time period for elective termination, there are no records of any such request in the third trimester.
9. The United Kingdom: Here, elective termination is time-restricted. In the United Kingdom, the limit for termination is twenty-four weeks. After that, any termination would have to be backed up with reasons provided for in their abortion statutes, primarily the reason of mother-preservation. Naturally, the U.K is one of the headers and advocates of better adoption laws in Europe and the world at large.
10. Australia: In Australia, abortion is permissible. Starting with Western Australia in 1998 and continuing with South Australia in 2023, it has been completely decriminalized across all jurisdictions. The availability of surgical abortions differs throughout the states and territories; in the Australian Capital Territory, there is no restriction on gestational age and they are widely available upon request between the first Sixteen to twenty-four weeks of pregnancy. Abortions after 20 weeks in Western Australia are highly restricted but often need the consent of two doctors.
According to polls, most Australians support abortion rights, and this support has been rising at least since the 1980s. Despite the rarity of anti-abortion violence in Australia, pro-abortion demonstrators have impeded entrance to abortion clinics by hurling insults and threats. In response, all countries have enacted laws that make it unlawful for protesters to agitate patrons and staff at abortion clinics.
11. Belgium: Abortion became legal in Belgium on April 4, 1990. Up to 12 weeks after conception and 14 weeks after the last menstrual cycle, abortion is legal. The woman is required to go to counseling at least six days before the abortion and to schedule routine appointments with her doctor to monitor her health in the weeks that follow the procedure.
Additional abortions are permitted if the woman’s life is in danger or the fetus seems to be at risk of giving born abnormally. In 2009, 9.2% of 1000 women between the ages of 15 and 44 had an abortion. According to a Centre d’action laque survey from 2018, 75.4% of Belgians agreed that abortion shouldn’t be criminalized, while 16.6% opposed, 5.7% said they weren’t sure, and 2.3% couldn’t decide.
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12. Colombia: Due to a judgment by the Constitutional Court on February 21, 2022, abortion in Colombia is free to be performed whenever it is desired and without limitations up to the 24th week of pregnancy. A 2006 Constitutional Court decision states that it is only permitted later in pregnancy where there is a risk to the mother’s life, there is a fetal abnormality, or there has been rape.
When a pregnancy results from rape, inappropriate sexual contact without consent, incest, intrauterine insemination, or the transfer of a fertilized egg without consent, abortion is legal. In such cases, the offense must be properly reported to the relevant authorities.
13. Croatia: Croatia passed legislation establishing abortion as a medical practice with a variety of restrictions in 1952. The law as it stands currently permits elective abortion up to ten weeks after conception and, in rare cases, even after that.
Abortions can only be carried out by licensed medical personnel in settings like hospitals with obstetrician or gynecology sections. Medical practitioners may object for religious or moral reasons. Girls under 16 must have parental permission.
Abortions need to be authorized by an Advisory Council of First Instance, which consists of a gynecologist, another doctor, a social worker, and maybe a nurse practitioner, after the first 10 weeks. If abortion is medically required to preserve the life of the woman or protect her health, the commission may decide to sanction the procedure.
In conclusion, all of the progress that have been made in several countries are an indication of world progress and the strengthening of the human rights of women across the globe. So while some pro-choice activists might believe that these abortion right are not yet good enough, others would recommend that attention should be directed to other countries who’s laws might be said to be less than impressive on abortion rights. At the end of the day, the abortion discuss build down to one core issues; the rights of a woman to her body.
So it may be concluded that the extent to which abortion rights are recognized and protected in a country is reflective of the state of the place of women in both the legal system, and the society at large.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka, ACMC, is a lawyer and a certified mediator/conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a developer with knowledge in various programming languages. Samuel is determined to leverage his skills in technology, SEO, and legal practice to revolutionize the legal profession worldwide by creating web and mobile applications that simplify legal research. Sam is also passionate about educating and providing valuable information to people.