A Global Look At Abortion And Some Of The World’s Toughest Laws

May 3 (Reuters) – The United States Supreme Court looks set to vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a leaked initial draft majority opinion published by Politico on Monday. Read full story

As new limits on abortion rights are pursued in the United States and other countries, here is a look at global abortion statistics and some of the world’s strictest abortion laws.

The information is based on data from the U.N. World Health Organization as well as from the Guttmacher Institute research group and the Center for Reproductive Rights legal advocacy group, both of which support abortion rights.

– Approximately 73 million abortions occur worldwide annually, with 61% of all unintended pregnancies and 29% of all pregnancies ending in abortion, according to the World Health Organization. It said about 45% of all abortions are unsafe, of which 97% occur in developing countries. A WHO fact sheet said “Unsafe abortion is a leading – but preventable – cause of maternal deaths and morbidities.”

– There are 16 countries where abortion is prohibited altogether, a list that includes Egypt, Iraq, the Philippines, Laos, Senegal, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. About three dozen other countries allow it only to save the life of the mother, a list that includes Nigeria, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Iran, Afghanistan and Myanmar. Around 40% of women of reproductive age live in places where abortion access is illegal or limited. 

– In the United States, a series of restrictive Republican-backed laws have been passed at the state level, with the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court set to vote to overturn a 1973 precedent that legalized the procedure nationwide in a case involving a Mississippi abortion ban beginning at 15 weeks of pregnancy, a law blocked by lower courts. The court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, heard oral arguments in December on Mississippi’s bid to revive its ban, and it appeared that a majority was inclined to uphold Mississippi’s abortion ban and that there could be five votes to overturn Roe. Read full story

– Poland in January 2021 put into effect a constitutional court decision prohibiting abortions performed due to fetal defects, banning the most common of the few legal grounds for terminating a pregnancy in the largely Catholic country.

– El Salvador has some of the world’s strictest abortion laws, with the procedure banned without exception since 1998. More than 180 women who experienced obstetric emergencies were prosecuted for abortion or aggravated homicide in the past 20 years.

– Women in Malta are denied access to abortion, even if their lives are at risk. It is the only EU member state that completely prohibits the procedure. Women face up to three years in jail.

– Senegal prohibits abortion but its code of medical ethics allows it if three doctors agree it is needed to save a woman’s life. A 2014 study showed the rules force women to seek clandestine abortions and, as a last resort, kill their own infants.

– In the United Arab Emirates, abortion is illegal except if the pregnancy endangers the woman’s life or there is evidence the baby will not survive. Women could face up to one year in prison and a hefty fine. Women who seek hospital treatment for a miscarriage may be accused of attempted abortion.

– Anti-abortion laws in the Philippines derive from its time as a colony of Spain. Abortion has been prohibited for more than a century. About 1,000 Filipino women die each year from complications. Spain is among more than 50 countries that have liberalized abortion laws over the past quarter century.

(Reporting by Catarina Demony; Editing by William Maclean)

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