Summary of Abortion Laws Around the World


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This chart summarizes the abortion laws of almost every country in the world. The chart indicates when abortion is legal in each country.

The "as of" column shows the date we last updated or verified the information for that country. Note that it doesn't necessarily mean that the law changed on that date, just that that's our latest source of information. A blank as-of date means "before 2007", because that's when we started keeping track of this. (If you know of changes in a country's laws since that date, we are anxious to hear from you, especially if you have solid sources, like the text of the law or an analysis by a lawyer.)

The meanings of the columns are:

Life to save the life of the mother
Health to preserve the physical health of the mother
Mental to preserve the mental health of the mother
Rape in cases of rape and incest
Defect when the unborn child has medical problems or birth defects
Social for social and/or economic reasons, e.g. if the mother cannot afford to support a child
Demand available on demand, no reason need be given

In each column, we give one of the following values:

Y legal for this reason
N not legal for this reason
1 legal, but only in the first trimester (three months) of pregnancy (exact time frames vary)
2 legal, but only in the first two trimesters (six months) of pregnancy (exact time frames vary)
R generally legal but with significant restrictions
? information not available, or law is ambiguous

More details are below.

Country Life Health Mental Rape Defect Social Demand As of
Afghanistan Y N N N N N N 2007
Albania Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Algeria Y 2 2 N N N N 2007
Andorra Y N N N N N N
Angola 1 N N N N N N
Antigua 1 N N N N N N
Argentina Y Y ? R N N N 2007
Armenia 2 2 2 2 2 2 1
Australia Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Austria Y Y Y 1 Y 1 1
Azerbaijan Y Y Y Y Y Y 1
Bahamas Y Y Y ? ? N N
Bahrain Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Bangladesh Y 1 1 1 1 1 1 2010
Barbados Y Y Y Y Y Y N 2007
Belarus Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Belgium Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Belize Y Y Y N Y Y N
Benin Y Y N Y Y N N 2007
Bhutan Y N N Y N N N 2007
Country Life Health Mental Rape Defect Social Demand As of
Bolivia Y Y N Y N N N 2007
Bosnia Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Botswana Y Y Y Y Y N N 2007
Brazil Y N N Y N N N 2007
Brunei Y N N N N N N 2007
Bulgaria Y 2 1 1 Y 1 1
Burkina Faso Y Y ? 1 Y N N 2007
Burundi Y Y N N N N N 2007
Cambodia Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Cameroon Y Y N Y N N N 2007
Canada Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Cape Verde Y Y Y 1 Y 1 1
Central African Republic Y N N N N N N 2007
Chad Y Y N N Y N N 2007
Chile N N N N N N N 2007
China Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2010
Colombia Y Y Y Y Y N N 2007
Comoros Y Y N N N N N 2007
Congo (Brazzaville) Y N N N N N N 2007
Congo (Zaire) Y N N N N N N 2007
Country Life Health Mental Rape Defect Social Demand As of
Cook Islands Y Y Y N N N N
Costa Rica Y Y N N N N N 2007
Cote D'Ivoire Y N N N N N N 2007
Croatia Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Cuba Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Cyprus Y Y Y Y Y Y N 2007
Czech Republic 2 2 1 1 2 1 1
Denmark Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Djibouti Y Y N N N N N 2007
Dominica Y N N N N N N 2007
Dominican Republic Y N N N N N N 2007
Ecuador Y Y N R N N N 2007
Egypt R N N N N N N
El Salvador N N N N N N N 2007
Equitorial Guinea R R N N N N N 2007
Eritrea Y Y N Y N N N 2007
Estonia Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Ethiopia Y Y N Y Y Y N 2007
Fiji Y Y Y ? ? Y N 2007
Finland Y Y Y Y Y Y N 2007
Country Life Health Mental Rape Defect Social Demand As of
France Y Y Y 1 Y 1 1
Gabon Y N N N N N N 2007
Gambia Y Y Y N N N N 2007
Georgia 2 2 2 2 2 2 1
Germany Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Ghana Y Y Y Y Y N N 2007
Greece Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Grenada Y Y ? N N N N 2007
Guatemala Y N N N N N N 2007
Guinea Y Y ? Y Y N N 2007
Guinea Bissau Y 1 1 1 1 1 1
Guyana Y 1 1 1 1 1 1 2007
Haiti Y ? N ? ? N N 2007
Honduras R N N N N N N 2007
Hong Kong Y Y Y Y Y N N 2007
Hungary Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Iceland Y Y Y Y Y Y N 2007
India Y Y 2 2 2 2 N 2010
Indonesia Y 1 N 1 1 N N 2010
Iran Y N N N 1 N N 2008
Country Life Health Mental Rape Defect Social Demand As of
Iraq R N N N R N N
Ireland Y N N N N N N 2007
Israel Y Y Y Y Y Y N 2007
Italy Y Y Y 1 Y 1 1
Jamaica R R R N N N N 2007
Japan 2 2 2 2 N 2 N 2010
Jordan Y Y ? N N N N 2007
Kazakhstan 2 2 2 2 2 2 1
Kenya Y Y R N N N N 2010
Kiribati Y N N N N N N 2007
Korea (North) Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Korea (South) R R R R R R R
Kuwait R R ? N R N N 2007
Kyrgyzstan 2 2 2 2 2 2 1
Laos Y N N N N N N 2007
Latvia Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Lebanon Y N N N N N N 2007
Lesotho Y N N N N N N 2007
Liberia Y Y Y Y Y N N 2007
Libya Y N N N N N N 2007
Country Life Health Mental Rape Defect Social Demand As of
Liechtenstein Y Y ? N N Y N 2007
Lithuania Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Luxembourg R R R R R R N 2007
Macedonia Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Madagascar Y N N N N N N 2007
Malawi R N N N N N N 2007
Malaysia 1 1 R N N N N 2010
Maldives R R N N N N N 2007
Mali Y N N Y N N N 2007
Malta N N N N N N N 2007
Marshal Islands R N N N N N N
Mauritania Y N N N N N N 2007
Mauritius Y N N N N N N 2007
Mexico 1 N N 1 1 N N 2007
Micronesia Y N N N N N N 2007
Moldova Y Y Y Y Y Y 1
Monaco Y N N N N N N 2007
Mongolia R R 1 1 1 1 1 2010
Montenegro Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Morocco 1 1 ? N N N N 2007
Country Life Health Mental Rape Defect Social Demand As of
Mozambique Y Y ? N N N Y
Myanmar Y N N N N N N 2007
Namibia Y Y Y Y Y N N 2007
Nauru R R R N N N N 2007
Nepal Y Y Y 1 Y 1 1 2010
Netherlands Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
New Zealand Y Y Y N Y N N 2007
Nicaragua N N N N N N N 2007
Niger Y N N N N N N 2007
Nigeria Y Y Y N N N N
Niue Y ? ? N N N N
Norway Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Oman Y N N N N N N 2007
Pakistan Y Y Y 1 1 1 1 2010
Palau Y N N N N N N 2007
Panama Y Y N 1 Y N N
Papua New Guinea 1 1 1 N N N N
Palestinian Territory Y N N N N N N 2007
Paraguay Y N N N N N N 2007
Peru Y Y ? N N N N 2007
Country Life Health Mental Rape Defect Social Demand As of
Philippines Y N N N N N N 2010
Poland Y Y 1 1 1 N N 2007
Portugal 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2007
Qatar Y Y ? N R N N 2007
Romania Y Y 1 1 1 1 1
Russia 2 2 2 2 2 2 1
Rwanda Y Y ? N N N N 2007
Saint Kitts Y Y Y N N N N 2007
Saint Lucia Y Y Y Y N N N 2007
Saint Vincent & the Grenadines Y Y Y Y Y Y N 2007
Samoa Y Y Y N N N N 2007
San Marino Y N N N N N N 2007
Sao Tome and Principe 1 N N N N N N 2007
Saudi Arabia R R ? N N N N 2007
Senegal Y N N N N N N 2007
Serbia Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Seychelles 1 1 1 1 1 N N 2007
Sierra Leone Y Y Y N N N N 2007
Singapore Y Y Y 2 2 2 2
Slovakia 2 2 1 2 2 1 1
Country Life Health Mental Rape Defect Social Demand As of
Slovenia Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Solomon Islands R N N N N N N 2007
Somalia Y N N N N N N
South Africa 2 2 2 2 2 2 1
Spain Y Y Y 1 2 N N 2007
Sri Lanka Y N N N N N N 2007
Sudan Y N N Y ? N N 2007
Suriname Y N N N N N N 2007
Swaziland Y Y Y Y Y N N 2007
Sweden Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Switzerland Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Syria R N N N N N N 2007
Taiwan Y Y Y Y Y Y N 2007
Tajikstan 2 2 2 2 2 2 1
Tanzania Y Y Y N N N N
Thailand Y Y Y Y Y N N 2010
Togo 1 1 N 1 1 N N 2007
Tonga Y N N N N N N 2007
Trinidad & Tobago Y Y Y N N N N 2007
Tunisia 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Country Life Health Mental Rape Defect Social Demand As of
Turkey R R R 1 R 1 1
Turkmenistan 2 2 2 2 2 2 1
Tuvalu Y N N N N N N 2007
United Arab Emirates R N N N N N N 2007
Uganda Y Y Y N N N N
Ukraine 2 2 2 2 2 2 1
United Kingdom 2 2 2 N 2 2 N 2007
United States Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2007
Uruguay Y Y 1 1 N 1 N
Uzbekistan 2 2 2 2 2 2 1
Vanuatu Y Y ? N N N N 2007
Vatican City N N N N N N N
Venezuela Y N N N N N N 2007
Vietnam Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 2010
Yemen Y N N N N N N 2007
Yugoslavia Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Zambia Y Y Y N Y Y N 2007
Zimbabwe Y Y N Y Y N N 2007


Of course governments do not write their laws by checking off boxes on a form, so the above chart is a summary, not a complete description.

In general, the above chart reflects what the text of the country's law says. How vigrously laws are enforced varies widely. Measuring how strictly a law is enforced is extremely difficult: It would be difficult to get statistics on how often the authorities knew someone had broken the law but did not bother to prosecute; I can't imagine how we could find out how many people broke the law but were never caught. However, there are three special cases that are too important to gloss over:

  1. A number of countries have blanket prohibitions of abortion with no exceptions spelled out in the law, but in practice the legal system accepts a defense that the abortion was necessary to save the life of the mother.

  2. Many countries have laws saying that abortion is legal when it is necessary to protect a woman's "health". Pro-abortionists frequently say that this includes or should include "mental health"; pro-lifers just as routinely say that this should include only physical health. Where information is available, the chart reflects the legal system's prevailing interpretation of the law.
  3. Many countries that were once colonies of Britain still give legal recognition to decisions of British courts. British courts have ruled that, despite the letter of the law, abortion must be permitted in cases where a woman and/or her doctor claim that the pregnancy endangers the woman's physical or mental health. Therefore, not only Britain but also many of her former colonies routinely allow abortion in such cases, even though the written law provides no such exceptions.

In the chart we note that abortion is sometimes legal "with significant restrictions". Various countries have many different restrictions, but just to give a sampling of restrictions that we felt justified an "R" rating:

  1. Perhaps the most common is a requirement that the woman's husband consent to the abortion. (Such laws usually say that if the girl is not married and under age, her parents must consent instead.) Most Moslem countries have this restriction.
  2. In Argentina and Ecuador, abortion is allowed in cases of rape, but only if the woman is mentally ill or retarded.
  3. In Luxembourg, she must be given information about alternatives. A few other countries have counseling requirements, but most of these are pretty vague and easy to meet. On paper, at least, Luxembourg's sounded like it might really mean something, and so was the only one that we felt justified an "R".
  4. Slovakia generally prohibits multiple abortions within a six month period.
  5. We did not consider it an additional restriction when a woman is required to get a doctor, psychologist, social worker, or other professional to certify that the abortion is necessary. We reasoned that this simply means that she must give some evidence that she has, in fact, met the requirements of the law. Indeed, in many cases it is an empty requirement: if the legal system simply takes the doctor's word for it, she can "shop around" until she finds someone willing to make the certification. This is certainly not always true -- in Germany, for example, such a certification requirement appears to prevent many abortions because most doctors are unwilling to participate in an abortion even to that extent.

There are many other special cases. For example:

In Uruguay, no social or economic justifications make an abortion legal, but when such a defense is offerred, the penalty for breaking the law is waived. In practice this would appear to be equivalent to saying that it is legal.

In a few cases -- most notably Australia, Mexico, Nigeria, and to some extent the United Kingdom -- different political subdivisions within the country have different laws. In such cases we have tried to list the "typical" or "most common" law for that country.

In 2010, Kenya adopted a new Constitution with pro-abortion provisions, but as of this writing the exact implications are unclear.


Disclaimer: The above is our best effort at understanding the laws of all these countries. The information is believed accurate but is not in any sense guaranteed. As you might imagine, keeping a list like this up to date is a difficult task. The information here comes from a variety of sources. In many cases the available information was incomplete or even contradictory. News stories, for example, often give a one- or two-sentence summary of a new law that may gloss over important details. Often even having the complete text of the law in a language we can read is insuffient, because laws can be vague or unclear.


Pregnant Pause Home Legislation Search this site

Originally posted 15 Apr 2002. Periodic updates since.

Copyright 2002-2007 by Pregnant Pause
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