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Analysis Examines Abortion Restrictions Around the World

Analysis Examines Abortion Restrictions Around the World

October 8, 2015 — Six nations in the world prohibit women from accessing abortion care in all circumstances, according to a new analysis from the Pew Research Center, the Pew Research Center's "Fact Tank" reports.

According to "Fact Tank," the analysis assessed 2013 United Nations information on 196 countries.

Global Findings

The analysis found that 96% of countries around the world allow women to have an abortion in instances where the woman's life is in danger. Overall, about 50 countries, or 26%, only permit abortions in such circumstances. Another 82 nations, or 42%, permit abortion in instances of life endangerment and in at least one other set of circumstances, such as when the woman's physical or mental health is in danger, in instances of incest or rape, in cases of fetal anomaly or because of certain economic or social factors.

Meanwhile, 58 nations, about 30%, do not impose restrictions on abortion based on a woman's reasons for seeking abortion care. However, many of those countries impose a gestational limit on abortion care.

According to the analysis, the six nations that prohibit abortion care in all circumstances are Chile, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Malta, Nicaragua and Vatican City.

Abortion Access by Region

In Europe, 73% of nations allow abortion for any reason, including France, Germany, Greece and Russia. A few European countries -- including Andorra, Ireland and San Marino -- only allow abortion care in instances of life endangerment. According to "Fact Tank," Ireland is the only European nation with a constitutional ban on the procedure except in cases of life endangerment.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East-North Africa region, all nations permit abortion when the woman's life is in danger. However, only four of the 18 countries allow the procedure in instances of rape or incest, and only two -- Bahrain and Tunisia -- do not restrict abortion based on a woman's reasons for seeking abortion care. According to the analysis, 98% of nations in sub-Saharan Africa permit abortion when the woman's life is in danger, but only 33% allow the procedure in instances of rape or incest and only two -- Cape Verde and South Africa -- do not restrict the procedure based on women's reasons for seeking abortion care.

The analysis found that about one-third of nations in the Asia-Pacific region -- including Australia, China and Turkey -- do not have restrictions based on women's reasons for seeking abortion care (Theodorou/Sandstrom, "Fact Tank," Pew Research Center, 10/6).