An abortion fund is a non-profit organization that provides financing for abortions to indigent women who cannot afford the fees. Abortion funds are widespread in countries like the United States of America where there is no national healthcare plan and where health insurance policies may not cover abortions.

Because demand vastly exceeds available funds,[citation needed] abortion funds rarely provide grants for the entire procedure. Instead, clients are interviewed individually and expected to raise as much as possible out-of-pocket, with the remainder provided by the fund in some combination of grant and/or repayable loan. Some funds will combine resources with other funds to increase the grant or loan total. This greatly increases the number of procedures that abortion funds can finance. However, since clients typically have poor credit, loans are given at modest interest rates, and funds do not employ aggressive collection tactics against their debtors, the abortion funds are still heavily dependent on donations and outside grants for their functioning. Most abortion funds are entirely staffed by volunteers, although a few of the larger funds have some paid administrative staff.

Most abortion funds are local and serve a particular region or metropolitan area, and are funded primarily by local donors and grant-making institutions. Some grants are only available to minors or young teenagers. Some abortion funds are related to a specific clinic, with funds available only for patients of that clinic. The National Network of Abortion Funds is an umbrella group for local abortion funds in the United States.


Anti-abortion violence is violence committed against individuals and organizations that provide abortion.[1] Incidents of violence have included destruction of property, in the form of vandalism, to crimes against people, including kidnapping, stalking, assault, attempted murder, and murder, to crimes affecting both people and property, including arson and bombings.

Anti-abortion violence is most frequently committed in the United States, though it has also occurred in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. G. Davidson Smith of Canadian Security Intelligence Service defined anti-abortion violence as "single issue terrorism".[2] A study of 1982–87 violence considered the incidents "limited political" or "subrevolutionary" terrorism.[3]

Contents [hide]*1 Definition and characteristics

Definition and characteristicsEdit

Anti-abortion violence is a form of terrorism specifically visited upon people who or places which provide abortion. Such incidents range from the vandalism, arson, and bombings of abortion clinics, as committed by Eric Rudolph, to the murders or attempted murders of physicians and clinic staff, as committed by James Kopp and Peter James Knight.

A small fraction of those opposed to abortion have sometimes resorted to very public demonstrations of violence in an effort to achieve their objective of curbing the termination of pregnancy. Those who engage in or support such actions defend the use of force — as justifiable homicide or defense of others — in interest of protecting the life of the fetus.[4]

By countryEdit

United StatesEdit

The majority of anti-abortion violence has been committed in the United States of America.


In the U.S., violence directed toward abortion providers has killed at least eight people, including four doctors, two clinic employees, a security guard, and a clinic escort.[5]

Attempted murder, assault, and threatsEdit

According to statistics gathered by the National Abortion Federation (NAF), an organization of abortion providers, since 1977 in the United States and Canada, there have been 17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault or battery, and 3 kidnappings committed against abortion providers.[10] Attempted murders in the U.S. included:[5][11][12]

  • August 19, 1993: Dr. George Tiller was shot outside of an abortion facility in Wichita, Kansas. Shelley Shannon was charged with the crime and received an 11-year prison sentence (20 years were later added for arson and acid attacks on clinics).
  • July 29, 1994: June Barret was shot in the same attack which claimed the lives of James Barrett, her husband, and Dr. John Britton.
  • December 30, 1994: Five individuals were wounded in the shootings which killed Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols.
  • October 28, 1997: Dr. David Gandell of Rochester, New York was injured by flying glass when a shot was fired through the window of his home.[13]
  • January 29, 1998: Emily Lyons, a nurse, was severely injured, and lost an eye, in the bombing which also killed Robert Sanderson.
  • May 21, 1998: Three people were injured when acid was poured at the entrances of five abortion clinics in Miami, Florida.[14]
Anthrax threatsEdit

The first hoax letters claiming to contain anthrax were mailed to U.S. clinics in October 1998, a few days after the Slepian shooting; since then, there have been 655 such bioterror threats made against abortion providers. None of the "anthrax" in these cases was real.[11][15]

  • November 2001: After the genuine 2001 anthrax attacks, Clayton Waagner mailed hoax letters containing a white powder to 554 clinics. On December 3, 2003, Waagner was convicted of 51 charges relating to the anthrax scare.

Arson, bombing, and property crimeEdit

According to NAF, since 1977 in the United States and Canada, property crimes committed against abortion providers have included 41 bombings, 173 arsons, 91 attempted bombings or arsons, 619 bomb threats, 1630 incidents of trespassing, 1264 incidents of vandalism, and 100 attacks with butyric acid ("stink bombs").[10] The first clinic arson occurred in Oregon in March 1976 and the first bombing occurred in February 1978 in Ohio.[16] More recent incidents have included:[5]

  • December 25, 1984: An abortion clinic and two physicians' offices in Pensacola, Florida were bombed in the early morning of Christmas Day by a quartet of young people (Matt Goldsby, Jimmy Simmons, Kathy Simmons, Kaye Wiggins) who later called the bombings "a gift to Jesus on his birthday."[17][18][19]
  • October 1999: Martin Uphoff set fire to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, causing US$100 worth of damage. He was later sentenced to 60 months in prison.[20]
  • May 28, 2000: An arson at a clinic in Concord, New Hampshire on resulted in damage estimated at US$20,000. The case remains unsolved.[21]
  • September 30, 2000: A Catholic priest drove his car into the Northern Illinois Health Clinic after learning that the FDA had approved the drug RU-486. He pulled out an ax before being forced to the ground by the owner of the building who fired two warning shots from a shotgun.[22]
  • June 11, 2001: An unsolved bombing at a clinic in Tacoma, Washington destroyed a wall, resulting in US$6000 in damages.[20]
  • July 4, 2005: A clinic Palm Beach, Florida was the target of an arson. The case remains open.[20]
  • December 12, 2005: Patricia Hughes and Jeremy Dunahoe threw a Molotov cocktail at a clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana. The device missed the building and no damage was caused. In August 2006, Hughes was sentenced to six years in prison, and Dunahoe to one year. Hughes claimed the bomb was a “memorial lamp” for an abortion she had had there.[23]
  • September 13, 2006 David McMenemy of Rochester Hills, Michigan crashed his car into the Edgerton Women's Care Center in Davenport, Iowa. He then doused the lobby in gasoline and then started a fire. McMenemy committed these acts in the belief that the center was performing abortions, however Edgerton is not an abortion clinic.[24]
  • April 25, 2007: A package left at a women's health clinic in Austin, Texas contained an explosive device capable of inflicting serious injury or death. A bomb squad detonated the device after evacuating the building. Paul Ross Evans (who had a criminal record for armed robbery and theft) was found guilty of the crime.[25]
  • May 9, 2007: An unidentified person deliberately set fire to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Virginia Beach, Virginia.[26]
  • December 6, 2007: Chad Altman and Sergio Baca were arrested for the arson of Dr. Curtis Boyd's clinic in Albuquerque. Altman’s girlfriend had scheduled an appointment for an abortion at the clinic.[27]
  • January 22, 2009 Matthew L. Derosia, 32, who was reported to have had a history of mental illness [28] rammed a SUV into the front entrance of a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Paul, Minnesota.[29]

Outside the United StatesEdit

Outside of the United States, known incidents of anti-abortion violence were committed in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.


  • July 16, 2001: Steven Rogers, a security guard at a clinic in Melbourne, Australia was shot in the face and killed by Peter James Knight. Knight was charged and was sentenced to life in prison on November 19, 2002.[30]
  • January 6, 2009: A firebombing using Molotov cocktails was attempted at a medical clinic in Mosman Park, Western Australia. Faulty construction of the bombs limited damage to a single external burnt area, though if successful damage would have been severe. It is believed that the inviduals who made the attack were responsible for graffiti "baby killers" on the site, indicating a pro-life reason for the attack. The site turned out to in fact not be an abortion clinic, though the attackers most likely were not aware of this.[31]


Attempted murderEdit

Violence has also occurred in Canada, where three doctors have been attacked to date. There is speculation that the timing of the shootings is related to the Canadian observance of Remembrance Day. The physicians were part of pattern of attacks, which targeted providers in Canada and upstate New York, including Dr. Barnett Slepian. All victims were shot in their homes with a rifle, at dusk, in late October or early November. James Kopp was charged with the murder of Dr. Slepian and the attempted murder of Dr. Short; he is suspected of having committed the other shootings as well.[11][12]

Bombing and property damageEdit
  • February 25, 1990: Two men broke into a clinic in Vancouver and destroyed $C30,000 worth of medical equipment with crowbars.[33]
  • May 18, 1992: A Toronto clinic operated by Henry Morgentaler was firebombed, causing the entire front wall of the building to collapse.[34]

New ZealandEdit

In 1999 Graeme White was found guilty and jailed for tunneling into an abortion clinic in a failed attempt to blow it up.

Explicit support of anti-abortion violenceEdit

Some organizations in the United States either explicitly or implicitly advocate violence against abortion providers. Two such organizations are the Army of God, an underground network of activists who believe that the use of violence is an appropriate tool for fighting against abortion, and the American Coalition of Life Activists, who published the Nuremberg Files.

The American Coalition of Life Activists (ACLA) was especially controversial because of its wanted-style posters. These posters would feature a photograph of a physician that performed abortions along with a monetary reward for any information that would lead to their "arrest, conviction and revocation of license to practice medicine".[35] The ACLA described these physicians as “war criminals[36] and accused them of committing “crimes against humanity” (reference to Washington). The Nuremberg Files was a controversial web site which published the names, home addresses, telephone numbers, and other personal information of abortion providers – highlighting the names of those who had been wounded and striking out those of which had been killed. Dr. George Tiller's name was included on this list along with many others. The site was accused of being a thinly-veiled hit list intended to incite violence; others claimed that it was protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.[37] A 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision finally shut the site down in 2002 after a prolonged debate.

The Army of God alone was responsible for bombing and setting fire to over one hundred clinics before the year 1994. They also invaded more than three hundred clinics and vandalized more than four hundred.[38] While this group has committed numerous property crimes, they are notorious for their more personal acts of violence such as kidnapping, attempted murder and murder. In August 1982, three men identifying as the Army of God kidnapped for eight days Hector Zevallos (a doctor and clinic owner) and his wife, Rosalee Jean.[39] In 1993, Shelly Shannon, a very active member of the Army of God, was found guilty for the attempted murder of Dr. George Tiller.[40] That same year, law enforcement officials found the Army of God Manual, a tactical guide to arson, chemical attacks, invasions, and bombings buried in Shelly Shannon's backyard.[39] And while Paul Jennings Hill was found guilty of the murder of both Dr. John Britton and clinic escort James Barrett, the Army of God justified his actions on the grounds that "whatever force is legitimate to defend the life of a born child is legitimate to defend the life of an unborn child... if in fact Paul Hill did kill or wound abortionist John Britton, and accomplices James Barrett and Mrs. Barrett, his actions are morally justified if they were necessary for the purpose of defending innocent human life".[11]


Pro-life reactionsEdit

The pro-life organization National Coalition for Life and Peace has rejected violence as a form of opposition to abortion.[41] However, one commentator has argued that the rhetoric of the pro-life movement implicitly condones violence against abortion providers[undue weight?].[42] This contention is disputed by some pro-life activists.[citation needed]

Pro-life activism has consisted of picketing, vigils for aborted fetuses, and sidewalk counseling outside abortion clinics. California and New York have responded to such activities with laws that protect access to abortion, particularly the creation of buffer zones or safety bubbles where protesters are not permitted to approach those entering or exiting facilities providing abortion.[43]

In response to incidents of anti-abortion violence, groups in the pro-life movement have sought to isolate themselves from violent factions. Pro-life advocates have vocally condemned violent actions against abortion providers as running contrary to the values and goals of the right-to-life cause.[44] Following the 1998 bombing of a clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, Feminists for Life offered a reward for the arrest and conviction of those responsible.[45] In 2001, Priests for Life, a group of pro-life Catholics in the United States, put in place a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of fugitives wanted in connection with violence against abortion providers.[46] The American Life League issued a "Pro-life Proclamation Against Violence" in 2006.[47] Joseph Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League has a chapter in his book called "Violence: Why It Won't Work." [48] Other pro-life groups to take a stand against violence include Center for Bio-Ethical Reform and Pro-Lifers Against Clinic Violence.

Other anti-abortion organizations have neither condemned nor condoned anti-abortion terror, although these groups have published the private home addresses of abortion workers and led public prayers for abortion workers to suffer "execution" and "calamity".[49]

While still rejecting violence, a few pro-life leaders have tempered their condemnation of anti-abortion violence by suggesting that the harm created by anti-abortion crime is small in comparison to the harms committed by abortion providers. Joseph Scheidler observed that "for the sake of proper perspective" he wanted to note that "no amount of damage to real estate can equal the violence of taking a single human life" through abortion.[48] David C. Nice, of the University of Georgia, contextualizes this support for violence as a political weapon against women's rights, one that is associated with tolerance for violence toward women.[50]

Pro-choice reactionsEdit

Pro-choice organizations have responded to anti-abortion violence by lobbying to protect access to abortion clinics. The National Abortion Federation and the Feminist Majority Foundation collect statistics on incidents of anti-abortion violence. The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act was passed in 1994 to protect reproductive health service facilities and their staff and patients from violent threats, assault, vandalism, and blockade.[51] State, provincial, and local governments have also passed similar laws designed to afford legal protection of access to abortion in the United States and Canada.

One form that this legislation can take is in the creation of a "buffer zone" around an abortion clinic or around the home of someone who works there; pro-life demonstration is limited to a specific distance from the building or prohibited altogether. In the U.S., three states — Colorado, Massachusetts, and Montana have passed "buffer zone" laws — and, in Canada, the province of British Columbia has enacted The Access to Abortion Services Act.

Anti-abortion violence in popular cultureEdit


  • The Fourth Procedure, a 1995 novel by Stanley Pottinger, is a medical thriller and murder mystery that features anti-abortion violence in its plot. Two men responsible for the bombing of an abortion clinic turn up dead with baby dolls surgically implanted inside of them.[52]
  • Insomnia by Stephen King has much of the plot focusing around violent pro-life campaigners and their opposition towards a pro-choice speech due to be held in their town. The group murders several women they believe to be seeking abortion and attempts to assassinate the speaker. They are motivated by a conspiracy theory that the speaker is part of secret society that was a continuation of Herod's Massacre of the Innocents.
  • The highly controversial short story Killing Babies by T. C. Boyle, written in response to attacks on abortion providers, first appeared in The New Yorker and was included in The Best American Short Stories 1997.


  • Palindromes, a 2004 film by director Todd Solondz, features the murder of an abortion doctor in his home similar to the Barnett Slepian case.


  • The popular crime drama Law and Order: Special Victims Unit showed the possible motive of a murder as anti-abortion violence in the episode "Hammered." The Nuremberg Files are mentioned in the episode when they go to tell the doctor's ex-husband about the murder. The abortion clinic they visit has bulletproof glass, because they had been the target of a sniper who shot a receptionist nonfatally. Also, when the detectives go to the clinic, they experience an egging of the clinic as they look into collecting several boxes of hate mail that the clinic received. Another episode of Law and Order: Dignity, based on the murder of George Tiller, was condemned by supporters of abortion rights for allowing mainstream pro-life arguments to be aired during the trial of the accused killer. *The first episode the spy drama Spooks is about a fictional anti-abortion terrorist leader coming to the UK to set up a series of terror cells.



The abortion debate refers to discussion and controversy surrounding the moral and legal status of abortion. The two main groups involved in the abortion debate are the pro-choice movement, and the pro-life movement. Each movement has, with varying results, sought to influence public opinion and to attain legal support for its position. In Canada, for example, abortion is available on demand,[1] while in Nicaragua abortions are illegal.[2] In some cases, the abortion debate has led to the use of violence.

Contents [hide]*1 Overview



Many of the terms used in the debate are seen as political framing: terms used to validate one's own stance while invalidating the opposition's. For example, the labels "pro-choice" and "pro-life" imply endorsement of widely held values such as liberty and freedom, while suggesting that the opposition must be "anti-choice" or "anti-life" (alternatively "pro-coercion" or "pro-death").[3] Such terms gloss over the underlying issue of which choice or life is being considered and whose choice or what kind of life is deemed most important.[4]

Appeals are often made in the abortion debate to the rights of the fetus, pregnant woman, or other parties. Such appeals can generate confusion if the type of rights is not specified (whether civil, natural, or otherwise) or if it is simply assumed that the right appealed to takes precedence over all other competing rights (an example of begging the question, defined as, "when a proposition which requires proof is assumed without proof").[5]

The appropriate terms with which to designate the human organism prior to birth are also debated. The medical terms "embryo" and "fetus" are seen by pro-life advocates as dehumanizing[6][7]. The terms "baby" and "unborn child" are seen by pro-choice advocates as emotionalized. Similarly, there is debate between use of the terms "woman" and "mother".

With each successive generation of abortion debate, the terminologies employed often evolve to give a fresh appearance to a particular opinion, even if the underlying viewpoints have not changed, especially after the failure of a previous campaign to lawmakers. Newer labels used include; "pro-abort", employed by the "pro-life" movement to imply that pro-choice advocates actually encourage abortion, and "pro-love", employed by some "pro-choice" advocates to imply they support families born out of love and not religious or moral necessity. Many other "pro-"labels exist, often created by individuals impromptu, to dodge a political debate or criticism from their peers when an abortion topic comes up.

Political debateEdit

Politics refers to the processes, defined and limited through legal documents, by which decisions (laws) are made in governments. In politics, rights are the protections and privileges legally granted to citizens by the government. Regarding abortion law, the political debate usually surrounds a right to privacy, and when or how a government may regulate abortion. For example, there is abundant debate regarding the extent of abortion regulation. Some pro-choice advocates argue that it should be illegal for governments to regulate abortion any more than other medical practices.[8] Some pro-life advocates want to regulate all abortions, starting from implantation.[9]


Time has stated that the issue of bodily privacy is "the core" of the abortion debate.[10] In political terms, privacy can be understood as a condition in which one is not observed or disturbed by government.[11] Privacy, in relation to abortion, is defined as the ability of a woman to "decide what happens to her own body".[10]

While governments are allowed to invade the privacy of their citizens in some cases, they are expected to protect privacy in all cases lacking a compelling state interest[citation needed] . Abortions are recognized as being private, but are criticized for involving the loss of human life. The pro-life position argues that abortion regulation is valid because the state interest in protecting prenatal life is compelling. The pro-choice position argues either that there is no state interest in regulating abortion, or that the woman's privacy is a more compelling interest. [2][3]Albert Wynn and Gloria Feldt at the U.S. Supreme Court to rally in support of Roe v. Wade.===U.S. judicial involvement=== Roe v. Wade struck down state laws banning abortion in 1973. Over 20 cases have addressed abortion law in the United States, all of which upheld Roe v. Wade. Since Roe, abortion has been legal throughout the country, but states have placed varying regulations on it, from requiring parental involvement in a minor's abortion to restricting late-term abortions.

Legal criticisms of the Roe decision address many points, among them are several suggesting that it is an overreach of judicial powers,[12] or that it was not properly based on the Constitution,[13] or that it is an example of judicial activism and that it should be overturned so that abortion law can be decided by legislatures.[14] Justice Potter Stewart, who joined with the majority, viewed the Roe opinion as "legislative" and asked that more consideration be paid to state legislatures.[15]

Candidates competing for the Democratic nomination for the 2008 Presidential election cited Gonzales v. Carhart as judicial activism.[16] In upholding the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, Carhart is the first judicial opinion upholding a legal barrier to a specific abortion procedure. "Where, in the performance of its judicial duties, the Court decides a case in such a way as to resolve the sort of intensely divisive controversy reflected in Roe and those rare, comparable cases, its [505 U.S. 833, 867] decision has a dimension that the resolution of the normal case does not carry. It is the dimension present whenever the Court's interpretation of the Constitution calls the contending sides of a national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution [...W]hatever the premises of opposition may be, only the most convincing justification under accepted standards of precedent could suffice to demonstrate that a later decision overruling the first was anything but a surrender to political pressure and an unjustified repudiation of the principle on which the Court staked its authority in the first instance." -Majority opinion of Planned Parenthood v. Casey[17][18],
Quite to the contrary, by foreclosing all democratic outlet for the deep passions this issue arouses, by banishing the issue from the political forum that gives all participants, even the losers, the satisfaction of a fair hearing and an honest fight, by continuing the imposition of a rigid national rule instead of allowing for regional differences, the Court merely prolongs and intensifies the anguish [over abortion]. – Justice Antonin Scalia, "concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part"[18] [4][5]"No to abortion" at a 2007 meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in São Paulo, Brazil. The crowd have both arms raised in a prayer gesture.===Effects of legalization/illegalization=== Pro-choice advocates argue that illegalization of abortion increases the incidence of unsafe abortions, as the availability of professional abortion services decreases, and leads to increased maternal mortality. According to a global study collaboratively conducted by the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute, most unsafe abortions occur where abortion is illegal [19]

The effect on crime of legalized abortion is a subject of controversy, with proponents of the theory generally arguing that "unwanted children" are more likely to become criminals and that an inverse correlation is observed between the availability of abortion and subsequent crime.

Ethical debateEdit

Main articles: Ethical aspects of abortion and Philosophical aspects of the abortion debateEthics refers to "moral philosophy", or the study of values and the analysis of right and wrong. The ethical debate over abortion usually surrounds the issues of whether a fetus has rights, in particular a right to life, and whether the pregnant woman's rights over her own body justify abortion even if the fetus has a right to life. For many, there is a strong correlation between religion and abortion ethics.


Main article: Beginning of human personhoodPro-life supporters argue that abortion is morally wrong on the basis that a fetus is an innocent human being[20] or because a fetus is a potential life that will in most cases develop into a fully functional human being.[21] Others reject this position by drawing a distinction between human being and human person, arguing that while the fetus is innocent and biologically human, it is not a person with a right to life.[22] In support of this distinction, some propose a list of criteria as markers of personhood. For example, Mary Ann Warren suggests consciousness (at least the capacity to feel pain), reasoning, self motivation, the ability to communicate, and self-awareness.[23] According to Warren, a being need not exhibit all of these criteria to qualify as a person with a right to life, but if a being exhibits none of them (or perhaps only one), then it is certainly not a person. Warren concludes that as the fetus satisfies only one criterion, consciousness (and this only after it becomes susceptible to pain),[24] the fetus is not a person and abortion is therefore morally permissible. Other philosophers apply similar criteria, concluding that a fetus lacks a right to life because it lacks self-consciousness,[25] rationality,[26] and autonomy.[27] These lists diverge over precisely which features confer a right to life,[28] but tend to propose various developed psychological features not found in fetuses.

Critics of this position typically argue that the proposed criteria for personhood would disqualify two classes of born human beings — reversibly comatose patients, and human infants — from having a right to life, since they, like fetuses, are not self-conscious, do not communicate, and so on.[29] Defenders of the proposed criteria may respond that the reversibly comatose do satisfy the relevant criteria because they "retain all their unconscious mental states".[30] Warren concedes that infants are not "persons" by her proposed criteria,[31] and on that basis she and others concede that infanticide could be morally acceptable under some circumstances (for example if the infant is severely disabled[32] or in order to save the lives of several other infants[33]). Critics may see such concessions as an indication that the right to life cannot be adequately defined by reference to developed psychological features.

An alternative approach is to base personhood or the right to life on a being's natural or inherent capacities. On this approach, a being essentially has a right to life if it has a natural capacity to develop the relevant psychological features; and, since human beings do have this natural capacity, they essentially have a right to life beginning at conception (or whenever they come into existence).[34] Critics of this position argue that mere genetic potential is not a plausible basis for respect (or for the right to life), and that basing a right to life on natural capacities would lead to the counterintuitive position that anencephalic infants, irreversibly comatose patients, and brain-dead patients kept alive on a medical ventilator, are all persons with a right to life.[35] Respondents to this criticism argue that the noted human cases in fact would not be classified as persons as they do not have a natural capacity to develop any psychological features.[36][37][38] [7][8]Members of Bound4LIFE in Washington, D.C. symbolically cover their mouths with red tape.Philosophers such as Aquinas use the concept of individuation. They argue that abortion is not permissible from the point at which individual human identity is realised. Anthony Kenny argues that this can be derived from everyday beliefs and language and one can legitimately say "if my mother had had an abortion six months into her pregnancy, she would have killed me" then one can reasonably infer that at six months the "me" in question would have been an existing person with a valid claim to life. Since division of the zygote into twins through the process of monozygotic twinning can occur until the fourteenth day of pregnancy, Kenny argues that individual identity is obtained at this point and thus abortion is not permissible after two weeks.[39]

Argument from uncertaintyEdit

Some pro-life supporters argue that if there is uncertainty as to whether the fetus has a right to life, then having an abortion is equivalent to consciously taking the risk of killing another. According to this argument, if it is not known for certain whether something (such as the fetus) has a right to life, then it is reckless, and morally wrong, to treat that thing as if it lacks a right to life (for example by killing it).[40] This would place abortion in the same moral category as manslaughter (if it turns out that the fetus has a right to life) or certain forms of criminal negligence (if it turns out that the fetus does not have a right to life).[41]

David Boonin replies that if this kind of argument were correct, then the killing of nonhuman animals and plants would also be morally wrong, because (Boonin contends) it is not known for certain that such beings lack a right to life.[42] Boonin also argues that arguments from uncertainty fail because the mere fact that one might be mistaken in finding certain arguments persuasive (for example, arguments for the claim that the fetus lacks a right to life) does not mean that one should act contrary to those arguments or assume them to be mistaken.[43]


The book Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation presents the argument that abortion involves unjust discrimination against the unborn. According to this argument, those who deny that fetuses have a right to life do not value all human life, but instead select arbitrary characteristics (such as particular levels of physical or psychological development) as giving some human beings more value or rights than others.[44]

In contrast, philosophers who define the right to life by reference to particular levels of physical or psychological development typically maintain that such characteristics are morally relevant,[45] and reject the assumption that all human life necessarily has value (or that membership in the species Homo sapiens is in itself morally relevant).[46]


Further information: Philosophical aspects of the abortion debateThe argument of deprivation states that abortion is morally wrong because it deprives the fetus of a valuable future.[47] On this account, killing an adult human being is wrong because it deprives the victim of a future like ours—a future containing highly valuable or desirable experiences, activities, projects, and enjoyments.[48] If a being has such a future, then (according to the argument) killing that being would seriously harm it and hence would be seriously wrong.[49] But since a fetus does have such a future, the "overwhelming majority" of deliberate abortions are placed in the "same moral category" as killing an innocent adult human being.[50] Not all abortions are unjustified according to this argument: abortion would be justified if the same justification could be applied to killing an adult human.

Criticism of this line of reasoning follows several threads. Some reject the argument on grounds relating to personal identity, holding that the fetus is not the same entity as the adult into which it will develop, and thus that the fetus does not have a "future like ours" in the required sense.[51] Others grant that the fetus has a future like ours, but argue that being deprived of this future is not a significant harm or a significant wrong to the fetus, because there are relatively few psychological connections (continuations of memory, belief, desire and the like) between the fetus as it is now and the adult into which it will develop.[52] Another criticism is that the argument creates inequalities in the wrongness of killing:[53] as the futures of some people (for example the young, bright and healthy) appear to be far more valuable or desirable than the futures of other people (for example the old, depressed and sick), the argument appears to entail that some killings are far more wrong than others, or that some people have a far stronger right to life than others—a conclusion that is taken to be counterintuitive or unacceptable. [9][10]The 2004 March for Women's Lives near the Washington Monument.===Bodily rights=== An argument first presented by Judith Jarvis Thomson states that even if the fetus has a right to life, abortion is morally permissible because a woman has a right to control her own body. Thomson's variant of this argument draws an analogy between forcing a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy and forcing a person's body to be used as a dialysis machine for another person suffering from kidney failure. It is argued that just as it would be permissible to "unplug" and thereby cause the death of the person who is using one's kidneys, so it is permissible to abort the fetus (who similarly, it is said, has no right to use one's body against one's will).

Critics of this argument generally argue that there are morally relevant disanalogies between abortion and the kidney failure scenario. For example, it is argued that the fetus is the woman's child as opposed to a mere stranger;[54] that abortion kills the fetus rather than merely letting it die;[55] and that in the case of pregnancy arising from voluntary intercourse, the woman has either tacitly consented to the fetus using her body,[56] or has a duty to allow it to use her body since she herself is responsible for its need to use her body.[57] Some writers defend the analogy against these objections, arguing that the disanalogies are morally irrelevant or do not apply to abortion in the way critics have claimed.[58]

Alternative scenarios have been put forth as more accurate and realistic representations of the moral issues present in abortion. John Noonan proposes the scenario of a family who was found to be liable for frostbite finger loss suffered by a dinner guest whom they refused to allow to stay overnight, although it was very cold outside and the guest showed signs of being sick. It is argued that just as it would not be permissible to refuse temporary accommodation for the guest to protect them from physical harm, it would not be permissible to refuse temporary accommodation of a fetus.[59]

Other critics claim that there is a difference between artificial and extraordinary means of preservation, such as medical treatment, kidney dialysis, and blood transfusions, and normal and natural means of preservation, such as gestation, childbirth, and breastfeeding. They argue that if a baby was born into an environment in which there was no replacement available for her mother's breast milk, and the baby would either breastfeed or starve, the mother would have to allow the baby to breastfeed. But the mother would never have to give the baby a blood transfusion, no matter what the circumstances were. The difference between breastfeeding in that scenario and blood transfusions is the difference between using your body as a kidney dialysis machine, and gestation and childbirth.[60][61][62][63][64][65]

Religious beliefsEdit

Main article: Religion and abortionEach faith has many varying views on the moral implications of abortion with each side citing their own textual proof. Oftentimes, these views can be in direct opposition to each other.[66]

Some pro-life Christians support their views with Scripture references such as that of Luke 1:15; Jeremiah 1:4–5; Genesis 25:21–23; Matthew 1:18; and Psalm 139:13–16. Roman Catholics in particular believe that human life begins at conception as well as the right to life, so abortion is considered immoral and a violation of the Fifth Commandment: "You shall not kill" (Exodus 20:13).[67] The Church of England also considers abortion to be morally wrong, though their position is not as firm as that of Roman Catholicism.[68]

Public opinionEdit

Main article: Societal attitudes towards abortionA number of opinion polls around the world have explored public opinion regarding the issue of abortion. Results have varied from poll to poll, country to country, and region to region, while varying with regard to different aspects of the issue.

A May 2005 survey examined attitudes toward abortion in 10 European countries, asking respondents whether they agreed with the statement, "If a woman doesn't want children, she should be allowed to have an abortion". The highest level of approval was 81% (in the Czech Republic); the lowest was 47% (in Poland).[69]

In North America, a December 2001 poll surveyed Canadian opinion on abortion, asking in what circumstances they believe abortion should be permitted; 32% responded that they believe abortion should be legal in all circumstances, 52% that it should be legal in certain circumstances, and 14% that it should be legal in no circumstances. A similar poll in April 2009 surveyed people in the United States about U.S. opinion on abortion; 18% said that abortion should be "legal in all cases", 28% said that abortion should be "legal in most cases", 28% said abortion should be "illegal in most cases" and 16% said abortion should be "illegal in all cases".[70] A November 2005 poll in Mexico found that 73.4% think abortion should not be legalized while 11.2% think it should.[71]

Of attitudes in South America, a December 2003 survey found that 30% of Argentines thought that abortion in Argentina should be allowed "regardless of situation", 47% that it should be allowed "under some circumstances", and 23% that it should not be allowed "regardless of situation".[72] A March 2007 poll regarding the abortion law in Brazil found that 65% of Brazilians believe that it "should not be modified", 16% that it should be expanded "to allow abortion in other cases", 10% that abortion should be "decriminalized", and 5% were "not sure".[73] A July 2005 poll in Colombia found that 65.6% said they thought that abortion should remain illegal, 26.9% that it should be made legal, and 7.5% that they were unsure.[74]

Breast cancer hypothesisEdit

Main article: Abortion-breast cancer hypothesisThe abortion-breast cancer hypothesis posits that induced abortion increases the risk of developing breast cancer.[75] This position contrasts with the scientific consensus that abortion does not cause breast cancer.[76][77][78][79]

In early pregnancy, levels of estrogen increase, leading to breast growth in preparation for lactation. The hypothesis proposes that if this process is interrupted by an abortion – before full maturity in the third trimester – then more relatively vulnerable immature cells could be left than there were prior to the pregnancy, resulting in a greater potential risk of breast cancer. The hypothesis mechanism was first proposed and explored in rat studies conducted in the 1980s.[80][81][82]

Fetal pain debateEdit

Main article: Fetal painFetal pain, its existence, and its implications are part of a larger debate about abortion. Many researchers in the area of fetal development believe that a fetus is unlikely to feel pain until after the sixth month of pregnancy. Others disagree.[83] Developmental neurobiologists suspect that the establishment of thalamocortical connections (at about 26 weeks) may be critical to fetal perception of pain.[84] However, legislation has been proposed by anti-abortion advocates requiring abortion providers to tell a woman that the fetus may feel pain during an abortion procedure.[85]

A review by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco in JAMA concluded that data from dozens of medical reports and studies indicate that fetuses are unlikely to feel pain until the third trimester of pregnancy.[86] However a number of medical critics have since disputed these conclusions.[83][87] Other researchers such as Anand and Fisk have challenged the idea that pain cannot be felt before 26 weeks, positing that pain can be felt around 20 weeks.[88] Because pain can involve sensory, emotional and cognitive factors, it may be "impossible to know" when painful experiences are perceived, even if it is known when thalamocortical connections are established.[89] According to opponents of fetal anesthesia, abortion clinics lack the equipment and expertise to supply such anesthesia.[90]

Effect upon crime rateEdit

Main article: Legalized abortion and crime effectA theory attempts to draw a correlation between the United States' unprecedented nationwide decline of the overall crime rate during the 1990s and the decriminalization of abortion 20 years prior.

The suggestion was brought to widespread attention by a 1999 academic paper, The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime, authored by the economists Steven D. Levitt and John Donohue. They attributed the drop in crime to a reduction in individuals said to have a higher statistical probability of committing crimes: unwanted children, especially those born to mothers who are African American, impoverished, adolescent, uneducated, and single. The change coincided with what would have been the adolescence, or peak years of potential criminality, of those who had not been born as a result of Roe v. Wade and similar cases. Donohue and Levitt's study also noted that states which legalized abortion before the rest of the nation experienced the lowering crime rate pattern earlier, and those with higher abortion rates had more pronounced reductions.[91]

Fellow economists Christopher Foote and Christopher Goetz criticized the methodology in the Donohue-Levitt study, noting a lack of accommodation for statewide yearly variations such as cocaine use, and recalculating based on incidence of crime per capita; they found no statistically significant results.[92] Levitt and Donohue responded to this by presenting an adjusted data set which took into account these concerns and reported that the data maintained the statistical significance of their initial paper.[93]

Such research has been criticized by some as being utilitarian, discriminatory as to race and socioeconomic class, and as promoting eugenics as a solution to crime.[94][95] Levitt states in his book Freakonomics that they are neither promoting nor negating any course of action—merely reporting data as economists.


Some argue that women cannot be free until they can have abortion on demand and walk away from parenthood like men can do.[96]

Mexico City PolicyEdit

Main article: Mexico City PolicyThe Mexico City policy, also known as the "Global Gag Rule" required any non-governmental organization receiving U.S. government funding to refrain from performing or promoting abortion services in other countries. This had a significant effect on the health policies of many nations across the globe. The Mexico City Policy was instituted under President Reagan, suspended under President Clinton, reinstated by President George W. Bush,[97] and suspended again by President Barack Obama on January 24, 2009.[98]

Exceptions in abortion lawEdit

Health of the motherEdit

Legal domains which do not have abortion on demand will often allow it when the health of the mother is at stake. "Health of the mother" may mean something different in different areas: for example, the Republic of Ireland allows abortion only to save the life of the mother, whereas pro-lifers in the United States argue health exceptions are used so broadly as to render a ban essentially meaningless. [99]


Some people think the earth is overpopulated and that abortion is necessary to keep it in check. [100]


Abortion has been used to promote racial eugenics and legalization has been favored by some for that reason.[101] It has also been postulated that the abortion of a higher percentage of minority children has contributed to the drop in crime since abortion was legalized in the United States.[102]


Although separate issues, laws allowing abortion in cases of rape or incest often go together. For example, before Roe v. Wade, 13 US states allowed abortion in the case of either rape or incest, but only 1 allowed for it just for rape (Mississippi), and none for just incest. [103]

Stage of pregnancyEdit

Many countries allow for abortion only through the first or second trimester.

Health of childEdit

A municipality will often allow abortion in cases of fetal defects, e.g., down syndrome.


The United Nations International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo in 1994, recognized unsafe abortion as a major public health concern. The World Health Organization estimates that about 75,000 women die each year from unskilled abortion. Damage to women's health and the burden of care that falls on often-scarce hospital resources also add to the costly impact of poorly performed abortion on public health systems.

Abortions are usually performed without adequate skill because of laws that make safe, medically performed abortion services unlawful. Within the last two centuries, and particularly during the twentieth century, abortion has been criminalized. It was only in the closing decades of the last century that laws have recognized women's needs and rights to have access to safe abortion services.

Historically, many customary laws condemned the interruption of pregnancy, whether by herbal or invasive means, because of the harm it presented to women. Pregnancy was evidenced only at about the end of the first trimester of pregnancy (at about 13 weeks), the stage called quickening. Church courts imposed more severe sanctions than secular courts, and were more concerned with unborn human life and abortions that occurred earlier in pregnancy. The first abortion legislation enacted in the English-speaking world was an English law of 1803 that punished whoever acted "to cause and procure the miscarriage of any woman then being quick with child." Later enactments more strictly imposed liability on pregnant women themselves, and, because proof that women had been "quick with child" was often difficult to establish, the offense was redefined as occurring whether women had "quickened" or not.

Advances in medicine in time provided better understanding of human conception and gestation, directing more attention to fetal and embryonic life. For instance, the Roman Catholic Church, whose moral teachings had been reflected in laws of many European countries, had condemned abortion after the stage of development at which it believed the soul had entered the body before birth. In 1869, however, it accepted that protected life began at conception. This made abortion a crime in many legal systems at any stage of gestation. Modern developments in abortion laws can be traced from when abortion was controlled only as a crime to be punished to its later legal accommodation to protect the health and well-being of pregnant women and their dependent born children and to its modern recognition as a woman's right to lawful choice.

The Crime of Abortion

The laws of many countries, particularly those that experienced colonization by European countries and are influenced by religious doctrines, continue to view abortion only as a criminal offense. Some countries whose criminal laws punish the willful taking of human life reinforce the prohibition of abortion by adding, sometimes in their national constitutions, that human life begins at conception. Punishments vary from a few years' custody to life imprisonment. Under Nazi occupation, France imposed a punishment of execution. Almost all laws recognize, however, that abortion procedures aimed in good faith to save a woman's life do not offend the criminal law, or are at least excusable, nonpunishable violations.

Abortions for Health and Welfare Purposes

In the mid-1960s, recognition grew that women often sought abortion for conscientious reasons, and that its medical restriction could be oppressive and unjust, causing women acting for justifiable reasons to go to unskilled illegal practitioners or to make crude interventions in their own bodies. Britain's Abortion Act of 1967, as amended in 1990, decriminalizes abortion before the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy if "the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family." Abortion also became lawful after twenty-four weeks when necessary to prevent risk to the life or grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman, and when "there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped." Health care providers, however, have a right of conscientious objection, and cannot be required to participate in abortion procedures.

Since 1967, about seventy-five countries in all regions of the world, including Guyana, India, South Africa, and Romania, have liberalized their abortion laws. Reformed laws allow abortion at various times from conception to twelve or more weeks, and to save life, health, and other interests. Perhaps the best-known reforming court judgment was made by the United States Supreme Court in 1973, in the case of Roe v. Wade. The Court recognized that a woman has a constitutionally protected right to terminate pregnancy until her fetus is viable, which is at the end of the second trimester of pregnancy (about twenty-four weeks' gestation), and that after viability states may regulate abortion to save the life or health of the mother. The judgment triggered a strong backlash, and continuing attempts have been made to have the Court reverse the judgment—and to change the Court's composition for this purpose. The Court was criticized for making new law, although sympathetic analysts found the Court had simply restored the law as it stood in 1787, when the United States wrote its Constitution and adopted much of the pre-1803 English criminal law.

Abortion As a Right of Women

An increasing number of countries now recognize a woman's right to exercise abortion choice for a time, usually until about twelve weeks after the beginning of pregnancy, and allow the procedure afterwards when faced with health, social, or other risk. In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada, in the case of R. v. Morgentaler, held the country's restrictive abortion law unconstitutional. The Chief Justice found that "forcing a woman, by threat of criminal sanction, to carry a fetus to term unless she meets certain criteria unrelated to her own priorities and aspirations is a profound interference with a woman's body and thus a violation of security of the person." The law was accordingly ruled void, and abortion is now regulated like any other medical procedure, allowing a woman to make her decision according to her own ethical judgment.

Human rights laws are increasingly giving priority to women's health, dignity, and capacity as the principal decision makers over their own reproduction. Countries whose laws criminalize abortion and compromise women's health and welfare are facing louder calls for reform. To counter this, conservative governments and religious authorities support restrictive laws and urge more prohibitions against abortion.

(SEE ALSO: Abortion; Maternal and Child Health; Public Health and the Law)


Boland, R. (1994). "Abortion Law World-Wide: A Survey of Recent Developments." In Essays in Honor of Jan Stepan, eds. I. Bednarikova and F. C. Chapman. Zurich: Schulthess Polygraphischer.

Cook, R. J.; Dickens, B. R.; and Bliss, L. E. (1999). "International Development in Abortion Law from 1988–1998." American Journal of Public Health 89(4): 579–586.

Rakman, A.; Katziol, L.; and Henshaw, S. K. (1998). "A Global Review of Laws on Induced Abortion, 1985–1997." International Family Planning Prospectus 24:56–64.


Abortion law is legislation which pertains to the provision of abortion. Abortion has been a controversial subject in several societies around the world because of the moral and ethical issues that surround it, though other considerations, such as a state's pro- or antinatalist policies or questions of inheritance and patriarchy, also dictate abortion law and regulation. It has been regularly banned and otherwise limited, though abortions have continued to be commonplace in many areas where it is illegal. Actually in contrast to common belief, abortion rates are similar in countries where the procedure is legal and in countries where it is not.[1] The same study also reveals that the number of abortions worldwide is declining due to increased access to contraception. Almost 2/3rds of the world's women currently reside in countries where abortion may be obtained on request for a broad range of social, economic or personal reasons. Abortion laws vary widely by country, ranging from those in Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Malta and Vatican City, which ban the procedure entirely,[2] to those in Canada, the United States, and many more which place no restrictions on the provision of abortion. Both supporters and opponents of legal abortion believe their position addresses a fundamental human right. Pro-Choice activists argue that a woman has a right to abortion on the basis of her choice. Pro-Life activists argue that abortion murders a baby.

Contents [hide]*1 History


Main article: History of abortion lawAbortion and contraception have been widely available throughout Western history, despite ethical concerns. Plato and Aristotle both argued in favor of compulsory abortion under certain circumstances, though Hippocrates expressly disapproved of the practice. Under Roman law, abortion sometimes occurred but family planning was conducted mainly through the exposure of healthy newborns—usually to protect the rights and interests of the biological father. References to abortion were included in the writings of Ovid, Seneca, Juvenal and Pliny, who included a list of abortifacients (drugs that induce an abortion) in one text. Early Christian philosophers, including Ivo of Chartres and Gratian, disapproved of abortion when it broke the link between copulation and procreation but argued that abortion of what Ivo termed an "unformed embryo" did not constitute homicide; at the same time they condemned direct abortion as a serious sin.

Religious authorities have taken various positions on abortion throughout history (see Religion and abortion). In 1588, Pope Sixtus V adopted a papal bull adopting the position of St. Thomas Aquinas that contraception and abortion were crimes against nature and sins against marriage. This verdict was relaxed three years later by Pope Gregory XIV, who pronounced that abortion before "hominization" should not be subject to ecclesiastical penalties that were any stricter than civil penalties (Codicis iuris fontes, ed. P. Gasparri, vol. 1 (Rome, 1927), pp. 330–331). However, the Catholic Church has remained consistently opposed to abortion during its entire 2,000-year[citation needed] history. In Pope Gregory XIV's time, common law positions on abortion in individual countries varied significantly from country to country.[citation needed]

As a matter of common law in England and the United States, abortion was illegal anytime after quickening – when the movements of the fetus could first be felt by the woman. In the 19th century, many Western countries began to use statutes to codify or further restrictions on abortion. Pro-life forces were led by a combination of conservative groups opposed to abortion on moral grounds and medical professionals who were concerned about the danger presented by the procedure and the regular involvement of non-medical personnel in performing abortions.

It became clear in the following years, however, that illegal abortions continued to take place in large numbers even where abortions were expressly illegal.[citation needed] It was difficult to obtain sufficient evidence to prosecute the women and abortion doctors, and judges and juries were often reluctant to convict. Henry Morgentaler, for instance, was never convicted by a jury. (He was acquitted by a jury in the 1973 court case, but the acquittal was overturned by five judges on the Quebec Court of Appeal in 1974. He went to prison, appealed, and was again acquitted. In total, he served 10 months, suffering a heart attack while in solitary confinement. Many[citation needed] were also outraged at the invasion of privacy and the medical problems resulting from abortions taking place illegally in medically dangerous circumstances. Political movements soon coalesced around the legalization of abortion and liberalization of existing laws.

By the early 20th century, many countries had begun to legalize abortions when performed to protect the life of the woman, and in some cases to protect the health of the woman. Under Vladimir Lenin, the Soviet Union legalized all abortions in 1920, but this was fully reversed in 1936 by Joseph Stalin in order to increase population growth. In the 1930s, several countries (Poland, Turkey, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Mexico) legalized abortion in some special cases (rape, threat to mother's health, fetal malformation). In 1948 abortion was legalized in Japan, 1952 in Yugoslavia (on a limited basis) and 1955 in the Soviet Union (on demand). Some Soviet allies (Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Romania) legalized abortion in the late fifties under Soviet pressure. The adoption of contraceptives the 1950s and 1960s in Western countries resulted in comparatively few statutory changes on abortion law. In Great Britain, the Abortion Act of 1967 clarified and prescribed abortions as legal up to 28 weeks. Other countries soon followed, including Canada (1969), the United States (1973 in most states, pursuant to the federal Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion nationwide), France (1975), Austria (1975), New Zealand (1977), Italy (1978), the Netherlands (1980) and Belgium (1990). However, these countries vary greatly in the circumstances under which abortion is permitted. In 1975, the West German Supreme Court struck down a law legalizing abortion, holding that they contradict the constitution's human rights guarantees. After Germany's reunification, despite the legal status of abortion in the former East Germany, a compromise was reached which deemed most abortions illegal, but prosecutions not performed.

International lawEdit

In addition to national and regional laws, there are treaties that may actually be enforced on or within their parties. However, there is an inherent difficulty in the enforcement of international law due to the issue that state sovereignty poses. As such, the effectiveness of even binding multi-national efforts to legislate the rights to life and liberty in general, or abortion in specific, is difficult to measure.

National lawsEdit

The following series of tables present the current abortion legislation of the world's nations as divided by continent. Actual access to abortion may vary significantly on the basis of geography, income, cost, health care, social factors, and other issues. Many jurisdictions also place other restrictions on abortion access, including waiting periods, the provision of information, the assent of multiple doctors, and spousal or parental notification.


  • Yes – Legal
  • No – Illegal
  • 1st – Legal during 1st trimester only (exact date – e.g. number of weeks – may vary)
  • 2nd – Legal during 1st and 2nd trimester only (exact date may vary)
  • Restricted – Legal but subject to significant restrictions
  • Varies – Varies by region
  •  ? – Information is unavailable or the law is too ambiguous


Country To protect woman's life Physical health Mental health Rape Fetal defects Socio-economic factors On request
[12]Algeria Yes 2nd 2nd No No No No
[13]Angola 1st No No No No No No
[14]Benin Yes No ? Yes Yes No No
[15]Botswana Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
[16]Burkina Faso Yes Yes Yes 1st Yes No No
[17]Burundi Yes Yes ? No No No No
[18]Cameroon Yes Yes ? Yes No No No
[19]Cape Verde Yes Yes Yes 1st Yes 1st 1st
[20]Central African Republic Yes No No No No No No
[21]Chad Yes Yes ? No Yes No No
[22]Comoros Yes Yes ? No No No No
[23]Republic of the Congo Yes No No No No No No
[24]Democratic Republic of the Congo Yes No No No No No No
[25]Côte d'Ivoire Yes No No No No No No
[26]Djibouti Yes ? ? No No No No
[27]Egypt Restricted No No No No No No
[28]Equatorial Guinea Yes Yes ? No No No No
[29]Eritrea Yes Yes ? No No No No
[30]Ethiopia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
[31]Gabon Yes No No No No No No
[32]Gambia Yes Yes Yes No No No No
[33]Ghana Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
[34]Guinea Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
[35]Guinea-Bissau Yes 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
[36]Kenya Restricted Restricted Restricted No No No No
[37]Lesotho Yes No No No No No No
[38]Liberia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
[39]Libya Yes No No No No No No
[40]Madagascar Yes No No No No No No
[41]Malawi Restricted No No No No No No
[42]Mali Yes No No Yes No No No
[43]Mauritania Yes No No No No No No
[44]Mauritius Yes No No No No No No
[45]Morocco 1st 1st 1st No No No No
[46]Mozambique Yes Yes Yes No No No 1st (illegal, but selectively allowed)[3]
[47]Namibia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
[48]Niger No No No No No No No
[49]Nigeria Yes Yes Yes No No No No
[50]Rwanda Yes Yes Yes No No No No
[51]São Tomé and Príncipe 1st No No No No No No
[52]Senegal Yes No No No No No No
[53]Seychelles 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st No No
[54]Sierra Leone Yes Yes Yes No No No No
[55]Somalia Yes No No No No No No
[56]South Africa (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[57]Sudan Yes No No Yes No No No
[58]Swaziland Yes No No No No No No
[59]Tanzania Yes Yes Yes No No No No
[60]Togo 1st ? ? ? ? No No
[61]Tunisia Yes 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
[62]Uganda Yes Yes Yes No No No No
[63]Western Sahara ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
[64]Zambia Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
[65]Zimbabwe Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No



Country To protect woman's life Physical health Mental health Rape Fetal defects Socio-economic factors On request
[66]Brunei Yes No No No No No No
[67]Cambodia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[68]Mainland China Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[69]Hong Kong [4][5] Yes 2nd (up to 24 weeks) 2nd (up to 24 weeks) 2nd (up to 24 weeks) 2nd (up to 24 weeks) No No
[70]Taiwan Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Law is unclear
[71]Indonesia Yes No No No No No No
[72]Japan (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes de facto
[73]People's Dem. Rep. of (North) Korea Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[74]Republic of (South) Korea [6] Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No (but illegal abortions, in this regard, are not punished)
[75]Laos No No No No No No No
[76]Malaysia 1st 1st 1st No No No No
[77]Mongolia Restricted Restricted 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
[78]Myanmar Yes No No No No No No
[79]Philippines (details) Yes No No No No No No
[80]Singapore Yes Yes Yes 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd
[81]Thailand Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No
[82]Vietnam Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Central and SouthEdit

Country To protect woman's life Physical health Mental health Rape Fetal defects Socio-economic factors On request
[83]Afghanistan Yes No No No No No No
[84]Bangladesh Yes 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
[85]Bhutan[7] Yes No No No No No No
[86]India (details) Yes Yes 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd No
[87]Kazakhstan 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st
[88]Kyrgyzstan 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st
[89]Maldives No No No No No No No
[90]Nepal Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 1st 1st
[91]Pakistan Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No
[92]Sri Lanka Yes No No No No No No
[93]Tajikistan 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st
[94]Turkmenistan 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st
[95]Uzbekistan 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st


Country To protect woman's life Physical health Mental health Rape Fetal defects Socio-economic factors On request
[96]Bahrain Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[97]Iran (details) Yes No No No No No No
[98]Iraq Yes No No No No No No
[99]Israel (details) Varies Varies Varies Varies Varies Varies Varies
[100]Jordan Restricted Restricted Restricted No No No No
[101]Kuwait Restricted Restricted Restricted No Restricted No No
[102]Lebanon Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Varies
[103]Oman Yes No No No No No No
[104]Qatar Yes Yes Yes No Restricted No No
[105]Saudi Arabia 1st Restricted Restricted No No No No
[106]Syria Restricted No No No No No No
[107]United Arab Emirates Restricted No No No No No No
[108]Yemen Yes No No No No No No



Country To protect woman's life Physical health Mental health Rape Fetal defects Socio-economic factors On request
[109]Andorra Yes No No No No No No
[110]Austria Yes Yes Yes 1st Yes 1st 1st [8]
[111]Belgium Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[112]Denmark(details) 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st[8]
[113]Faroe Islands 2nd No No 2nd 2nd No No
[114]Finland (details) Yes Yes Yes 2nd 2nd 2nd (de facto) Yes; (de jure) No (consult details, colour map)
[115]France (details) Yes Yes Yes 1st Yes 1st 1st
[116]Germany (details) Yes Yes Yes 1st 1st 1st de facto
[117]Iceland (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[118]Ireland (details) Yes No No No No No No
[119]Italy (details) 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st 2nd 1st 1st
[120]Liechtenstein Yes Yes Yes No No No No
[121]Luxembourg Yes Restricted Restricted Restricted Restricted Restricted (under discussion) No
[122]Malta (details) (de facto) No; (de jure) Yes; consult details No No No No No No
[123]Monaco Yes No No No No No No
[124]Netherlands (details) 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd
[125]Norway (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[126]Northern Ireland[9](details) Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No
[127]Portugal Yes Yes Yes 2nd 2nd 1st 1st
[128]San Marino Yes No No No No No No
[129]Spain(details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 1st
[130]Sweden (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[131]Switzerland (details) Yes Yes Yes 1st 1st 1st No
[132]United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland; details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 2nd (de facto, de jure No)
[133]Vatican City No No No No No No No


Country To protect woman's life Physical health Mental health Rape Fetal defects Socio-economic factors On request
[134]Albania Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[135]Armenia 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st
[136]Azerbaijan Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 1st
[137]Belarus Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[138]Bosnia and Herzegovina Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[139]Bulgaria Yes 2nd 1st 1st Yes 1st 1st
[140]Croatia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[141]Cyprus Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes ? No
[142]Czech Republic (details) 2nd 2nd 1st 1st 2nd 1st 1st
[143]Estonia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[144]Georgia 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st
[145]Greece(details) Yes Yes Yes 2nd 2nd 1st 1st
[146]Hungary Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[147]Latvia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[148]Lithuania Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[149]Republic of Macedonia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[150]Moldova Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 1st
[151]Montenegro Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[152]Poland (details) 2nd 2nd No 1st 2nd No No
[153]Romania (details) Yes Yes 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
[154]Russia (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 2nd 1st
[155]Serbia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[156]Slovakia Yes Yes Yes 1st Yes 1st 1st
[157]Slovenia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[158]Turkey Yes Yes 1st 1st Yes 1st 1st
[159]Ukraine 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st

North AmericaEdit

Country To protect woman's life Physical health Mental health Rape Fetal defects Socio-economic factors On request
[160]Antigua and Barbuda 1st No No No No No No
[161]Bahamas Yes Yes Yes ? ? No No
[162]Barbados Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
[163]Belize Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
[164]Canada (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
[165]Costa Rica Yes Yes ? No No No No
[166]Cuba 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
[167]Dominica Yes No No No No No No
[168]Dominican Republic (details) No No No No No No No
[169]El Salvador (details) No No No No No No No
[170]Grenada Yes Yes Yes No No No No
[171]Guatemala (details) Yes No No No No No No
[172]Haiti Yes ? No ? ? No No
[173]Honduras Restricted No No No No No No
[174]Jamaica Restricted Restricted Restricted No No No No
[175]Mexico (details) Varies Varies Varies Yes Varies Varies Varies
[176]Nicaragua (details) No No No No No No No
[177]Panama Yes Yes No 1st Yes No No
[178]Saint Kitts and Nevis Yes Yes Yes No No No No
[179]Saint Lucia Yes Yes Yes No No No No
[180]Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
[181]Trinidad and Tobago Yes Yes Yes No No No No
[182]United States (details) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes


Country To protect woman's life Physical health Mental health Rape Fetal defects Socio-economic factors On request
[183]Australia (details) Varies Varies Varies Varies Varies Varies Varies
[184]Cook Islands Yes Yes Yes No No No No
[185]Fiji Yes Yes Yes ? ? Yes No
[186]Kiribati Yes No No No No No No
[187]Marshall Islands Restricted No No No No No No
[188]Federated States of Micronesia Yes No No No No No No
[189]Nauru Restricted Restricted Restricted No No No No
[190]New Zealand (details) Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No (de facto)
[191]Niue Yes ? ? No No No No
[192]Palau Yes No No No No No No
[193]Papua New Guinea Restricted Restricted Restricted No No No No
[194]Samoa Yes Yes Yes No No No No
[195]Solomon Islands Restricted No No No No No No
[196]Tonga Yes No No No No No No
[197]Tuvalu No No No No No No No
[198]Vanuatu Yes Yes Yes No No No No

South AmericaEdit

Country To protect woman's life Physical health Mental health Rape Fetal defects Socio-economic factors On request
[199]Argentina (details) Restricted No Restricted No No No No
[200]Bolivia Yes Yes ? Yes No No No
[201]Brazil (details) Yes No No Yes No No No
[202]Chile (details) No No No No No No No
[203]Colombia Yes Yes ? Yes Yes No No
[204]Ecuador Yes Yes Yes Restricted No No No
[205]Guyana Yes Yes Yes Yes 1st 1st 1st
[206]Paraguay Yes No No No No No No
[207]Peru Yes Yes Yes No No No No
[208]Suriname Yes No No No No No No
[209]Uruguay(details) No No No No No No No
[210]Venezuela Yes No No No No No No

Legal restrictions on later abortionEdit

See also: Late-term abortionAs of 1998, among the 152 most populous countries, 54 either banned abortion entirely or permitted it only to save the life of the pregnant woman.[10] In contrast, another 44 of the 152 most populous countries generally banned late-term abortions after a particular gestational age: 12 weeks (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Greece, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and the former Yugoslavia), 13 weeks (Italy), 14 weeks (Austria, Belgium, Cambodia, Germany, Hungary, and Romania), 18 weeks (Sweden), viability (Netherlands and to some extent the United States), and 24 weeks (Singapore and the United Kingdom [Northern Ireland excluded]).[10]

Case lawEdit



Chancery Law Chronicles- First Bangladesh Online Case Law Database [1]




United States

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