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, as well as between various U.S. states.

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*:

Andorra Haiti Malta Republic of the Congo
Aruba Honduras Mauritania San Marino
Curaçao (territory) Iraq Nicaragua Senegal
Dominican Republic Jamaica Palau Sierra Leone
Egypt Laos Palestine Suriname
El Salvador Madagascar Philippines Tonga

*Note: The table above includes only 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

United States

Abortion laws in the United States are in flux as of 2022. Abortion was made legal across the entire the United States by the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. While each state still had its own set of legal guidelines for abortion, with some being far more restrictive than others, abortion was nonetheless legal in every part of the country. However, Roe v Wade was overturned by the then-current Supreme Court on June 24, 2022, in a case titled Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. This decision enabled each individual state to legalize or prohibit abortion. As a result, state abortion laws vary more widely than ever.

Prior to Roe v Wade, 30 states had banned abortion outright. Although Roe vs Wade forced these states to legalize abortion, many still enacted laws limiting abortion as much as legally allowed. The expectation was that such states would quickly move to prohibit abortion again. This proved to be the case, with more than 20 states, particularly red states in the central and southern U.S., re-banning abortion within a week of the Dobbs decision.

Some of these bans were the result of pre-existing abortion bans that had been rendered inactive by Roe vs Wade but never removed from the state's legal code, so they became active again upon RvW's dissolution. Additionally, beginning with South Dakota in 2005, thirteen states had passed proactive "trigger laws"—anti-abortion laws that were specifically designed to go into effect in the event that Roe vs Wade was ever repealed.

There is some indication that new abortion bans will be more restrictive and punitive than those from the pre-RvW era. For example, a 2021 Texas law (S.B. 8) empowered individual citizens to sue anyone they discovered had performed or aided an abortion, even if they had never met any of the parties involved. This regulation had not appeared in Texas' pre-RvW abortion laws.

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.

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
IndiaTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds1,406,631,776
United StatesVaries by state334,805,269
IndonesiaTo save a woman's life279,134,505
PakistanTo preserve physical health229,488,994
NigeriaTo save a woman's life216,746,934
BrazilTo save a woman's life215,353,593
BangladeshTo save a woman's life167,885,689
RussiaNo restriction145,805,947
MexicoTo save a woman's life131,562,772
JapanTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds125,584,838
EthiopiaTo preserve physical health120,812,698
PhilippinesProhibited altogether112,508,994
EgyptProhibited altogether106,156,692
VietnamNo restriction98,953,541
DR CongoProhibited altogether95,240,792
IranTo save a woman's life86,022,837
TurkeyNo restriction85,561,976
GermanyNo restriction83,883,596
ThailandTo preserve physical/mental health70,078,203
United KingdomTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds68,497,907
FranceNo restriction65,584,518
TanzaniaTo save a woman's life63,298,550
South AfricaNo restriction60,756,135
ItalyNo restriction60,262,770
KenyaTo preserve physical health56,215,221
MyanmarTo save a woman's life55,227,143
ColombiaTo preserve physical/mental health51,512,762
South KoreaTo preserve physical health51,329,899
UgandaTo save a woman's life48,432,863
SpainNo restriction46,719,142
ArgentinaTo preserve physical health46,010,234
SudanTo save a woman's life45,992,020
AlgeriaTo preserve physical/mental health45,350,148
UkraineNo restriction43,192,122
IraqProhibited altogether42,164,965
AfghanistanTo save a woman's life40,754,388
CanadaNo restriction38,388,419
MoroccoTo preserve physical health37,772,756
PolandTo preserve physical health37,739,785
Saudi ArabiaTo preserve physical health35,844,909
AngolaProhibited altogether35,027,343
UzbekistanNo restriction34,382,084
PeruTo preserve physical health33,684,208
MalaysiaTo preserve physical/mental health33,181,072
MozambiqueTo preserve physical/mental health33,089,461
GhanaTo preserve physical/mental health32,395,450
YemenTo save a woman's life31,154,867
NepalNo restriction30,225,582
VenezuelaTo save a woman's life29,266,991
MadagascarProhibited altogether29,178,077
CameroonTo preserve physical health27,911,548
Ivory CoastTo save a woman's life27,742,298
NigerTo preserve physical health26,083,660
AustraliaNo restriction26,068,792
North KoreaNo restriction25,990,679
TaiwanTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds23,888,595
Burkina FasoTo preserve physical health22,102,838
Sri LankaTo save a woman's life21,575,842
MaliTo save a woman's life21,473,764
MalawiTo save a woman's life20,180,839
ZambiaTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds19,470,234
SyriaTo save a woman's life19,364,809
ChileTo save a woman's life19,250,195
KazakhstanNo restriction19,205,043
RomaniaNo restriction19,031,335
GuatemalaTo save a woman's life18,584,039
EcuadorTo preserve physical health18,113,361
SenegalProhibited altogether17,653,671
ChadTo preserve physical health17,413,580
NetherlandsNo restriction17,211,447
CambodiaNo restriction17,168,639
SomaliaTo save a woman's life16,841,795
ZimbabweTo preserve physical health15,331,428
GuineaTo preserve physical health13,865,691
RwandaTo preserve physical health13,600,464
BeninTo preserve physical health12,784,726
BurundiTo preserve physical health12,624,840
TunisiaNo restriction12,046,656
BoliviaTo preserve physical health11,992,656
HaitiProhibited altogether11,680,283
BelgiumNo restriction11,668,278
South SudanTo save a woman's life11,618,511
CubaNo restriction11,305,652
Dominican RepublicProhibited altogether11,056,370
Czech RepublicNo restriction10,736,784
GreeceNo restriction10,316,637
JordanTo preserve physical health10,300,869
AzerbaijanNo restriction10,300,205
HondurasProhibited altogether10,221,247
SwedenNo restriction10,218,971
PortugalNo restriction10,140,570
United Arab EmiratesTo save a woman's life10,081,785
TajikistanNo restriction9,957,464
HungaryNo restriction9,606,259
BelarusNo restriction9,432,800
Papua New GuineaTo save a woman's life9,292,169
AustriaNo restriction9,066,710
IsraelTo preserve physical/mental health8,922,892
SwitzerlandNo restriction8,773,637
TogoTo preserve physical health8,680,837
SerbiaNo restriction8,653,016
Sierra LeoneTo preserve physical/mental health8,306,436
Hong KongTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds7,604,299
LaosProhibited altogether7,481,023
ParaguayTo save a woman's life7,305,843
LibyaTo save a woman's life7,040,745
BulgariaNo restriction6,844,597
NicaraguaProhibited altogether6,779,100
KyrgyzstanNo restriction6,728,271
LebanonTo save a woman's life6,684,849
El SalvadorProhibited altogether6,550,389
TurkmenistanNo restriction6,201,943
SingaporeNo restriction5,943,546
DenmarkNo restriction5,834,950
Republic of the CongoProhibited altogether5,797,805
FinlandTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds5,554,960
NorwayNo restriction5,511,370
SlovakiaNo restriction5,460,193
OmanTo save a woman's life5,323,993
LiberiaTo preserve physical/mental health5,305,117
Costa RicaTo preserve physical health5,182,354
IrelandTo save a woman's life5,020,199
Central African RepublicTo preserve physical health5,016,678
MauritaniaProhibited altogether4,901,981
New ZealandTo preserve physical/mental health4,898,203
PanamaTo save a woman's life4,446,964
KuwaitTo preserve physical health4,380,326
CroatiaNo restriction4,059,286
MoldovaNo restriction4,013,171
EritreaTo preserve physical/mental health3,662,244
UruguayNo restriction3,496,016
MongoliaNo restriction3,378,078
Bosnia And HerzegovinaNo restriction3,249,317
JamaicaTo preserve physical/mental health2,985,094
QatarTo preserve physical health2,979,915
ArmeniaNo restriction2,971,966
AlbaniaNo restriction2,866,374
LithuaniaNo restriction2,661,708
NamibiaTo preserve physical/mental health2,633,874
GambiaTo preserve physical/mental health2,558,482
BotswanaTo preserve physical/mental health2,441,162
GabonProhibited altogether2,331,533
LesothoTo preserve physical health2,175,699
North MacedoniaNo restriction2,081,304
SloveniaNo restriction2,078,034
LatviaNo restriction1,848,837
BahrainNo restriction1,783,983
Equatorial GuineaTo preserve physical health1,496,662
Trinidad And TobagoTo preserve physical/mental health1,406,585
Timor LesteTo save a woman's life1,369,429
EstoniaNo restriction1,321,910
MauritiusTo preserve physical/mental health1,274,727
CyprusTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds1,223,387
EswatiniTo preserve physical/mental health1,184,817
DjiboutiTo preserve physical health1,016,097
FijiTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds909,466
ComorosTo preserve physical health907,419
GuyanaNo restriction794,045
BhutanTo save a woman's life787,941
Solomon IslandsTo save a woman's life721,159
LuxembourgNo restriction642,371
MontenegroNo restriction627,950
SurinameProhibited altogether596,831
Cape VerdeNo restriction567,678
MaldivesTo preserve physical health540,985
MaltaProhibited altogether444,033
BelizeTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds412,190
BahamasTo preserve physical health400,516
IcelandTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds345,393
VanuatuTo preserve physical health321,832
BarbadosTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds288,023
Sao Tome And PrincipeProhibited altogether227,679
SamoaTo preserve physical/mental health202,239
Saint LuciaTo preserve physical/mental health185,113
KiribatiTo save a woman's life123,419
MicronesiaProhibited altogether117,489
GrenadaTo preserve physical health113,475
Saint Vincent And the GrenadinesTo preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds111,551
TongaProhibited altogether107,749
Antigua And BarbudaTo save a woman's life99,509
SeychellesTo preserve physical/mental health99,426
AndorraProhibited altogether77,463
DominicaTo save a woman's life72,344
Marshall IslandsProhibited altogether60,057
Saint Kitts And NevisTo preserve physical/mental health53,871
MonacoTo preserve physical health39,783
LiechtensteinTo preserve physical health38,387
San MarinoProhibited altogether34,085
PalauProhibited altogether18,233
TuvaluTo save a woman's life12,066
NauruTo preserve physical/mental health10,903

Countries Where Abortion Is Illegal 2022

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