Countries Where Abortion Is Illegal 2022

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Abortion, the process of prematurely terminating a pregnancy through surgical means, has always been a controversial subject. Abortion is a deeply personal matter, and our opinions on it are formed by our most fundamental moral, emotional, religious, political, and ethical beliefs. Abortion involves both the potential mother's right to bodily autonomy (and health) and the unborn child's right to life—two inalienable rights that abortion sets against one another. Because of these factors and more, abortion laws vary significantly between nations.

The undeniable (though understandable) complexity of abortion laws

Laws regarding abortion are diverse. As of 2021, there are twenty-four countries in which abortion is illegal in any and all circumstances. However, most countries have adopted a more nuanced approach. Nearly every country in which abortion is legal has what is known as a gestational limit, which means a fetus or embryo can be aborted early in the pregnancy, but cannot be aborted once it reaches a certain stage of development. This is typically 12 weeks, but may be as low as 6 weeks or as high as 24 weeks. Abortion may also be legal in cases in which the pregnancy is the result of rape, incest, or if the fetus has a noticeable developmental impairment. In some countries (particularly in Asia, where male children tend to be valued more than female children) gender-based abortion is legal.

The mother's health factors into the equation as well. In 37 countries, abortion is illegal unless it saves the mother's life. In other countries, it is illegal unless used to save the mother's life or preserve her health during pregnancy. An example of this situation is an ectopic pregnancy, in which the embryo fails to implant in the uterus and instead implants in a different organ (fallopian tubes, ovaries) or just outside the uterus. Ectopic pregnancies cannot be carried to term—the embryo cannot survive outside the uterus—and have a high probability of causing fatal injuries to the mother as well if not aborted.

Finances are another important variable. Some countries' abortion laws allow abortion if carrying the pregnancy to term would inflict unreasonable socioeconomic hardship on the mother. Studies have shown that women denied access to abortion are markedly more likely to descend into poverty as a result of the added financial burden of caring for an additional child.

Finally, there are countless additional guidelines to many countries' abortion laws, such as requiring parental/spousal consent (or a police report in cases of rape), restricting access to methods of determining the sex of the fetus, or requiring the pregnant woman to first view an ultrasound or listen for a fetal heartbeat.

Countries in which abortion is completely illegal/prohibited:

Abortion is completely illegal in the following countries: Andorra, Aruba (territory), Republic of the Congo, Curaçao (territory), Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, Jamaica, Laos, Madagascar, Malta, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Palau, Philippines, San Marino, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Suriname, Tonga, and West Bank & Gaza Strip (Palestinian territories). Note: This is a list of countries in which abortion has been completely prohibited. For a more complete and detailed list of countries and their various legal stances on abortion, see the table further down the page.

The real-world impact of making abortion illegal

According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the legality of abortion across the world actually has little to no effect on abortion rates throughout the world. Legal or not, abortions can, will, and do take place. The legality of abortion, however, does affect how safe those abortions are. Women who do not have access to a legal abortion frequently turn to illegal or "homemade" abortion options, which are typically much riskier, more dangerous, and less effective than legal options conducted by professional doctors in a clinical setting would be.

Abortion laws of major countries compared

The following is a brief spotlight on some of the larger countries around the world and their respective perspectives on terminating pregnancies, laws regarding abortions to date, or bans placed on abortion throughout the years.

Brazil

Latin America's largest country has not completely outlawed abortion, but it does consider abortion a crime in all but a few select circumstances: When the pregnant woman was raped, when the pregnancy is the result of incest/sexual activity with a family member, or when the woman's life would be endangered by continuing the pregnancy. These three exceptions are quite common globally and are found in many countries' abortion laws.

Canada

Abortions are legal in Canada and require no legally compelling reason (such as rape or health risks) so long as they take place before the gestational limit, which ranges from 12 weeks to "24 weeks + 6 days" depending upon province and territory. Abortions were banned in most cases until the year 1988, when the Canadian Supreme Court reversed the laws that once made abortions illegal. Abortions fall under the services covered by Canada's national health care system. Provided the abortion is conducted in a regular hospital, the patient is not charged. Abortions performed in private clinics may require the patient to pay medical costs.

Russia

Abortion is fully legal up to the 12th week of pregnancy in Russia, as well as up to 22 weeks in cases of rape and at any point if the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother. Russia actually made abortion legal for any reason in 1920, making it the first country to do so. Although a broad ban was reinstated in 1936, that ban was lifted in 1955 and abortion access has remained open ever since. As of 2010, Russia led the world in the number of abortions per capita.

United States

Abortion was made permanently legal in the United States by the landmark Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court in 1973. However, each state has its own set of legal guidelines for abortion, with some being far more restrictive than others. In fact, prior to Row v Wade, 30 states had banned abortion outright, and while all 50 states have complied with the federal ruling to decriminalize abortion, many have enacted laws limiting abortion as much as legally allowed.

Moreover, Roe v Wade may soon be overturned as well. The current Supreme Court declined to block a 2021 Texas law that banned abortions in all but life-threatening situations once "cardiac activity" (the precursor to a heartbeat) can be detected, which is approximately six weeks into the pregnancy—a time at which a woman may not yet realize they are pregnant. The law also empowers individual citizens to sue anyone they discover has performed or aided an abortion, a clause many opponents feel could spiral out of control. While the Texas law still faces an uphill legal battle, the court's initial stance of non-interaction has been viewed by some as a sign that the court is prepared to overturn Roe v Wade in the near future.

List of countries of the world and their abortion laws:

The table below displays the general details of each country's legal stance on abortion.

  • On Request — Abortion for any reason is legal, though gestational limits still apply.
  • Save Life — Abortion is legal when necessary to save the life of the woman.
  • Physical Health — Abortion is legal when pregnancy risks significant (but non-fatal) injury to the woman.
  • Mental Health — Abortion is legal when pregnancy puts the woman's mental/emotional health at risk.
  • Rape — Abortion is legal when the pregnancy is the result of rape.
  • Incest — Abortion is legal when the pregnancy is the result of incest.
  • Cognitively Disabled — Abortion is legal when the woman is mentally or cognitively disabled.
  • Fetal Impairment — Abortion is legal when the fetus is known to have significant mental disabilities or physical malformations. As these can range from non-life-threatening conditions such as Down Syndrome to 100% fatal conditions such as anencephaly, more granular guidelines are often necessary.
  • Socioeconomic — Abortion is legal when the woman is financially unable to support the child.

Countries Where Abortion Is Illegal 2022

Country Abortion on Request 2022 Population
AfghanistanTo save a woman's life40,754,388
AlbaniaNo restriction2,866,374
AlgeriaTo preserve physical/mental health45,350,148
AndorraProhibited altogether77,463
AngolaProhibited altogether35,027,343
Antigua And BarbudaTo save a woman's life99,509
ArgentinaTo preserve physical health46,010,234
ArmeniaNo restriction2,971,966
AustraliaNo restriction26,068,792
AustriaNo restriction9,066,710
AzerbaijanNo restriction10,300,205
BahamasTo preserve physical health400,516
BahrainNo restriction1,783,983
BangladeshTo save a woman's life167,885,689
BarbadosTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds288,023
BelarusNo restriction9,432,800
BelgiumNo restriction11,668,278
BelizeTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds412,190
BeninTo preserve physical health12,784,726
BhutanTo save a woman's life787,941
BoliviaTo preserve physical health11,992,656
Bosnia And HerzegovinaNo restriction3,249,317
BotswanaTo preserve physical/mental health2,441,162
BrazilTo save a woman's life215,353,593
BulgariaNo restriction6,844,597
Burkina FasoTo preserve physical health22,102,838
BurundiTo preserve physical health12,624,840
CambodiaNo restriction17,168,639
CameroonTo preserve physical health27,911,548
CanadaNo restriction38,388,419
Cape VerdeNo restriction567,678
Central African RepublicTo preserve physical health5,016,678
ChadTo preserve physical health17,413,580
ChileTo save a woman's life19,250,195
ColombiaTo preserve physical/mental health51,512,762
ComorosTo preserve physical health907,419
Costa RicaTo preserve physical health5,182,354
CroatiaNo restriction4,059,286
CubaNo restriction11,305,652
CyprusTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds1,223,387
Czech RepublicNo restriction10,736,784
DenmarkNo restriction5,834,950
DjiboutiTo preserve physical health1,016,097
DominicaTo save a woman's life72,344
Dominican RepublicProhibited altogether11,056,370
DR CongoProhibited altogether95,240,792
EcuadorTo preserve physical health18,113,361
EgyptProhibited altogether106,156,692
El SalvadorProhibited altogether6,550,389
Equatorial GuineaTo preserve physical health1,496,662
EritreaTo preserve physical/mental health3,662,244
EstoniaNo restriction1,321,910
EswatiniTo preserve physical/mental health1,184,817
EthiopiaTo preserve physical health120,812,698
FijiTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds909,466
FinlandTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds5,554,960
FranceNo restriction65,584,518
GabonProhibited altogether2,331,533
GambiaTo preserve physical/mental health2,558,482
GermanyNo restriction83,883,596
GhanaTo preserve physical/mental health32,395,450
GreeceNo restriction10,316,637
GrenadaTo preserve physical health113,475
GuatemalaTo save a woman's life18,584,039
GuineaTo preserve physical health13,865,691
GuyanaNo restriction794,045
HaitiProhibited altogether11,680,283
HondurasProhibited altogether10,221,247
Hong KongTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds7,604,299
HungaryNo restriction9,606,259
IcelandTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds345,393
IndiaTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds1,406,631,776
IndonesiaTo save a woman's life279,134,505
IranTo save a woman's life86,022,837
IraqProhibited altogether42,164,965
IrelandTo save a woman's life5,020,199
IsraelTo preserve physical/mental health8,922,892
ItalyNo restriction60,262,770
Ivory CoastTo save a woman's life27,742,298
JamaicaTo preserve physical/mental health2,985,094
JapanTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds125,584,838
JordanTo preserve physical health10,300,869
KazakhstanNo restriction19,205,043
KenyaTo preserve physical health56,215,221
KiribatiTo save a woman's life123,419
KuwaitTo preserve physical health4,380,326
KyrgyzstanNo restriction6,728,271
LaosProhibited altogether7,481,023
LatviaNo restriction1,848,837
LebanonTo save a woman's life6,684,849
LesothoTo preserve physical health2,175,699
LiberiaTo preserve physical/mental health5,305,117
LibyaTo save a woman's life7,040,745
LiechtensteinTo preserve physical health38,387
LithuaniaNo restriction2,661,708
LuxembourgNo restriction642,371
MadagascarProhibited altogether29,178,077
MalawiTo save a woman's life20,180,839
MalaysiaTo preserve physical/mental health33,181,072
MaldivesTo preserve physical health540,985
MaliTo save a woman's life21,473,764
MaltaProhibited altogether444,033
Marshall IslandsProhibited altogether60,057
MauritaniaProhibited altogether4,901,981
MauritiusTo preserve physical/mental health1,274,727
MexicoTo save a woman's life131,562,772
MicronesiaProhibited altogether117,489
MoldovaNo restriction4,013,171
MonacoTo preserve physical health39,783
MongoliaNo restriction3,378,078
MontenegroNo restriction627,950
MoroccoTo preserve physical health37,772,756
MozambiqueTo preserve physical/mental health33,089,461
MyanmarTo save a woman's life55,227,143
NamibiaTo preserve physical/mental health2,633,874
NauruTo preserve physical/mental health10,903
NepalNo restriction30,225,582
NetherlandsNo restriction17,211,447
New ZealandTo preserve physical/mental health4,898,203
NicaraguaProhibited altogether6,779,100
NigerTo preserve physical health26,083,660
NigeriaTo save a woman's life216,746,934
North KoreaNo restriction25,990,679
North MacedoniaNo restriction2,081,304
NorwayNo restriction5,511,370
OmanTo save a woman's life5,323,993
PakistanTo preserve physical health229,488,994
PalauProhibited altogether18,233
PanamaTo save a woman's life4,446,964
Papua New GuineaTo save a woman's life9,292,169
ParaguayTo save a woman's life7,305,843
PeruTo preserve physical health33,684,208
PhilippinesProhibited altogether112,508,994
PolandTo preserve physical health37,739,785
PortugalNo restriction10,140,570
QatarTo preserve physical health2,979,915
Republic of the CongoProhibited altogether5,797,805
RomaniaNo restriction19,031,335
RussiaNo restriction145,805,947
RwandaTo preserve physical health13,600,464
Saint Kitts And NevisTo preserve physical/mental health53,871
Saint LuciaTo preserve physical/mental health185,113
Saint Vincent And the GrenadinesTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds111,551
SamoaTo preserve physical/mental health202,239
San MarinoProhibited altogether34,085
Sao Tome And PrincipeProhibited altogether227,679
Saudi ArabiaTo preserve physical health35,844,909
SenegalProhibited altogether17,653,671
SerbiaNo restriction8,653,016
SeychellesTo preserve physical/mental health99,426
Sierra LeoneTo preserve physical/mental health8,306,436
SingaporeNo restriction5,943,546
SlovakiaNo restriction5,460,193
SloveniaNo restriction2,078,034
Solomon IslandsTo save a woman's life721,159
SomaliaTo save a woman's life16,841,795
South AfricaNo restriction60,756,135
South KoreaTo preserve physical health51,329,899
South SudanTo save a woman's life11,618,511
SpainNo restriction46,719,142
Sri LankaTo save a woman's life21,575,842
SudanTo save a woman's life45,992,020
SurinameProhibited altogether596,831
SwedenNo restriction10,218,971
SwitzerlandNo restriction8,773,637
SyriaTo save a woman's life19,364,809
TaiwanTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds23,888,595
TajikistanNo restriction9,957,464
TanzaniaTo save a woman's life63,298,550
ThailandTo preserve physical/mental health70,078,203
Timor LesteTo save a woman's life1,369,429
TogoTo preserve physical health8,680,837
TongaProhibited altogether107,749
Trinidad And TobagoTo preserve physical/mental health1,406,585
TunisiaNo restriction12,046,656
TurkeyNo restriction85,561,976
TurkmenistanNo restriction6,201,943
TuvaluTo save a woman's life12,066
UgandaTo save a woman's life48,432,863
UkraineNo restriction43,192,122
United Arab EmiratesTo save a woman's life10,081,785
United KingdomTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds68,497,907
United StatesNo restriction334,805,269
UruguayNo restriction3,496,016
UzbekistanNo restriction34,382,084
VanuatuTo preserve physical health321,832
VenezuelaTo save a woman's life29,266,991
VietnamNo restriction98,953,541
YemenTo save a woman's life31,154,867
ZambiaTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds19,470,234
ZimbabweTo preserve physical health15,331,428

Countries Where Abortion Is Illegal 2022

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