pdf version

The World’s Abortion Laws

Currently, 61 per cent of the world’s people live 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. 

A note on terminology:
“Countries” listed on the table include independent states and, where populations exceed one million, semi-autonomous regions, territories and jurisdictions of special status. The table therefore includes Hong Kong, Northern Ireland, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Gestational Limits Key: All Countries in Category V have gestational limits of 12 weeks unless otherwise indicated. Gestational limits are calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period, which is considered to occur two weeks prior to conception. Where laws specify that gestitional age limits are calculated from the date of conception, these limits have been extended by two weeks.


Gestational limit of 90 days
Gestational limit of 8 weeks
Gestational limit of 10 weeks
* Gestational limit of 14 weeks
** Gestational limit of 18 weeks
*** Gestational limit of 24 weeks
v Law does not limit pre-viability abortion
 º Law does not indicate gestational limit; regulatory mechanisms vary
R Abortion permitted in cases of rape
I Abortion permitted in cases of incest
F Abortion permitted in cases of fetal impairment
S Sex selective abortion prohibited
SA Spousal authorisation required
U Law unclear
PA Parental authorisation/notification required
R1 Abortion permitted in the case of rape of a woman with a mental disability Federal system in which abortion law is determined at state level; classification reflects legal status of abortion for largest number of people
+ Abortion permitted on additional enumerated grounds relating to such factors as the woman’s age or capacity to care for a child
x Recent legislation eliminated all exceptions to prohibition on abortion; availability of defense of necessity highly unlikely

Permitted to Save the Woman’sLife 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 which involve the mother’s health.

Afghanistan Guatemala Marshall Islands–U Senegal
Andorra Guinea-Bissau Mauritania Soloman Islands
Angola Haiti Mauritius Somalia
Antigua & Barbuda Honduras Mexico–R/F Sri Lanka
Bangladesh Indonesia Micronesia–U Sudan–R
Bhutan–R/I/+ Iran Monaco Suriname
Brazil–R Iraq Myanmar Syria–SA/PA
Brunei Darussalam Ireland Nicaragua–x Tanzania
Central African Rep. Kenya Niger Tonga
Chile–x Kiribati Nigeria Tuvalu
Congo (Brazzaville) Laos Oman Uganda
Côte d’Ivoire Lebanon Palau–U United Arab Emirates–SA/PA
Dem. Rep. of Congo Lesotho Panama–PA/R/F Venezuela
Dominica Libya–PA Papua New Guinea West Bank & Gaza Strip
Dominican Republic Madagascar Paraguay Yemen
Egypt Malawi–SA Philippines  
El Salvador–x Mali–R/I San Marino 69 Countries, 26% of
Gabon Malta Sao Tome & Principe World’s Population


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 Djibouti Liechtenstein–+ Rwanda
Bahamas Ecuador– R1 Maldives–SA Saudi Arabia–SA/PA
Benin–R/I/F Equatorial Morocco–SA Togo–R/I/F
Bolivia–R/I Guinea–SA/PA Mozambique Uruguay–R
Burkina Faso–R/I/F Eritrea - R/I Pakistan Vanuatu
Burundi Ethiopia–R/I/F/+ Peru Zimbabwe–R/I/F
Cameroon–R Grenada Poland–PA/R/I/F  
Chad–F Guinea–R/I/F Qatar–F 34 Countries,
Comoros Jordan Rep. of Korea 9.4% of World’s
Costa Rica Kuwait–SA/PA/F –SA/R/I/F Population

Mental Health Grounds

Laws in Category III expressly permit abortion to protect the woman’s mental health, as well as her life and physical health. The interpretation of “mental health” varies around the world. It can encompass, for example, psychological distress suffered by a woman who is raped or severe strain caused by social or economic circumstances.

Countries which allow abortion services for other health reasons, particularly those emanating from psychological distress due to rape and incest

Algeria Jamaica–PA Saint Kitts & Nevis Thailand–R/F
Botswana–R/I/F Liberia–R/I/F Saint Lucia–R/I Trinidad & Tobago
Colombia–R/I/F Malaysia Samoa  
Gambia Namibia–R/I/F Seychelles–R/I/F  
Ghana–R/I/F Nauru Sierra Leone 23 Countries,
Hong Kong–R/I/F New Zealand–I/F Spain–R/F 4.2% of World’s
Israel–R/I/F/+ Northern Ireland Swaziland–R/I/F Population

The World's Abortion Law Map 2007Socioeconomic Grounds

A number of countries explicitly recognise three other grounds for abortion: when pregnancy results from rape; when pregnancy results from incest; and when there is a high probability of fetal impairment. Countries that recognise these grounds may fall within any of the categories described above. In addition, countries in any category may restrict access to abortion by requiring a woman to obtain parental or spousal authorisation. 

Laws in Category IV, which allow abortion on socio-economic grounds, explicitly permit consideration of such factors as a woman’s economic resources, her age, her marital status, and the number of her children. Such laws are generally interpreted liberally.

Countries which allow abortion based on a woman’s socio-economic capacity in having
children and maintaining a family

Australia– Fiji India–PA/R/F Grenadines–R/I/F
Barbados–PA/R/I/F Finland–R/F/+ Japan–SA Taiwan–SA/PA/I/F
Belize–F Great Britain–F Luxembourg–PA/R/F Zambia–F
Cyprus–R/F Iceland–R/I/F/+ Saint Vincent &  
    14 Countries, 21.3% of World’s Population

Without Restrictions as to Reasons

Finally, the least restrictive abortion laws are those that allow abortion without restriction as to reason. Most countries with such laws, however, impose a limit on the period during which women can readily access the procedure.

Countries where abortion services are available on demand

Albania Fmr. Yugoslav Rep. Romania*
Armenia Macedonia–PA Russian Fed.
Austria* Georgia Serbia–PA
Azerbaijan Germany* Singapore***
Bahrain Greece–PA Slovak Rep.–PA
Belarus Guyana† Slovenia–PA
Belgium* Hungary South Africa
Bosnia-Herzegovina–PA Italy”–PA Sweden**
Bulgaria Kazakhstan Switzerland
Cambodia* Kyrgyzstan Tajikistan
Canada° Latvia Tunisia
Cape Verde Lithuania Turkey‡–SA/PA
China°–S Moldova Turkmenistan
Croatia–PA Mongolia Ukraine
Cuba–PA Montenegro–PA United Statesv– PA
Czech Rep.–PA Nepal–S Uzbekistan
Dem. People’s Rep. of Korea° Netherlandsv Vietnam°
Denmark–PA Norway–PA  
Estonia Portugal‡–PA 56 Countries, 39.3% of
France* Puerto Ricov World’s Population


Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

facebook rndyoutube rnd twitter rnd