The Abortion laws around the world

Why in news?

Recently, the U.S. Supreme court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade judgement of 1973 that gave women in America the right to have an abortion before the fetus is viable outside the womb or before the 24-28 weeks mark.


U.S. Supreme court in its ruling said that they have no control over the right to abortion and have left the decision upon the respective state legislatures and its people. Justice Samuel Alito told that the constitution makes no reference to abortion and no such right has ever been guaranteed by the constitution, including the Due Process Clause of the 14th amendment. This amendment protects among other things, including, the right to marry, the right to abortion, and the right to use contraceptives.


A woman living in Texas, Norma McCorvey, in 1969, wanted to have an abortion when she was five months pregnant but in her state, she wasn’t allowed to do that pertaining to the restrictions Texas had imposed. A pseudonym ‘Jane Roe’ was given to her and the defendant in her case was Henry Wade due to which the name ‘Roe v Wade’ was given to this judgment.

Roe v. Wade judgment

Roe v. Wade judgment had mentioned a trimester system for abortions. There were some restrictions in the second trimester while in the third trimester state could impose a ban on abortion as the fetus comes to a point where it can live outside the womb except in the case the life of the mother is at risk.

Later in the 1992 Planned Parenthood vs Casey case, the U.S. Supreme court removed the trimester system but the right to abortion still pertained that mentioned right to abortion in case the fetus comes to a point where it can live outside the womb.

Cons of this judgement

People argued that the judgement would heavily effect the women from marginalised communities who can’t afford health care. Along with this, they would have to travel from one state to the state where abortion is not banned making the process expensive for them. 13 states have banned abortions fully. UNFPA and WHO noted that 45% abortions were dangerous meaning the high risks for maternal death.

Abortion laws in India

Abortion is a crime under Indian Penal Code, 1860. However, MTP, 1971 (Medical Termination of Pregnancy, 1971) allows abortion till 20 weeks of pregnancy while an amendment extended this timeline to 24 weeks but under special categories including women that are rape, incest survivors. This is allowed only under great surveillance of two registered doctors.

In case of fetal disability, there is no deadline for abortion but this needs to be done under great surveillance of medical Board of specialist doctors setup by government of states and Union Territories.

Countries where abortion is banned

According to a data by Global Advocacy Group, Center for Reproductive Rights, abortion is totally illegal in 24 countries including Senegal, Philippines, Mauritania, Laos, Egypt, El Salvador, Honduras, Poland, Malta, etc.

Countries with regulated abortion

Around 50 countries including Indonesia, Libya, Nigeria, Venezuela have regulated abortion. Some countries allow it when women’s health is in deteriorating state while other countries allow it in case when the woman is a rape, incest survivor or in case of fetal disability.

Countries with no ban on abortions

In most of the European countries, abortion is easily accessible. In UK, abortion is legal until the birth of the child in case of fetal disability. In 2019, Northen Ireland became the last country to legalise the abortions in the UK. In 2020, New Zealand legalised abortions. In Canada, abortion is allowed at all stages but until the age of 34 years.

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