10 facts on growing legal access to abortion worldwide

by Emma Batha | @emmabatha | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 4 June 2019 17:33 GMT

Abortion rights activists attend a demonstration for legalizing abortion in Latin America in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

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26 countries ban abortion outright, even where a woman's life is at risk. These countries are home to 90 million women of reproductive age

By Emma Batha

VANCOUVER, June 4 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Nearly 50 countries have liberalized their abortion laws in the last quarter century, a map released by the Center for Reproductive Rights showed on Tuesday, despite a flurry of restrictions passed by U.S. states.

Reproductive rights experts say outlawing abortion forces women to resort to unsafe terminations, which cause almost 23,000 deaths every year. But abortion opponents say the fetus's right to life transcends all other rights.

Here are 10 facts on the topic:

1. 26 countries ban abortion outright, even where a woman's life is at risk. These countries are home to 90 million women of reproductive age, 5% of the global total.

2. They include El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mauritania, Madagascar, Gabon, Senegal, Egypt, Iraq, Malta, Laos, Dominican Republic and the Philippines.

3. 39 countries restrict abortion but allow it to save a woman's life. Ten of them also include additional grounds such as rape, incest and fetal impairment. These laws apply to 359 million women of reproductive age, 22% of the total.

4. 976 million women, or 59% of women of reproductive age live in countries that broadly allow abortion.

5. The most liberal laws - applying to 36% of women of reproductive age or 590 million women in 67 countries - allow abortion on request, although gestational limits vary.

6. Abortion is allowed on broad social or economic grounds that consider the woman's circumstances in 14 countries, which are home to 386 million women of reproductive age, or 23% of the global total.

7. In the last 25 years, 15 countries have reformed their laws to allow abortion on request and 18, including Niger, Angola and Colombia, have overturned complete bans on abortion.

8. New restrictions on abortion have been passed by Republican-dominated legislatures in nine U.S. states.

9. Alabama passed an outright ban in May, including for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, unless the woman's life is in danger.

10. Ohio and Georgia have banned abortions except in a medical emergency after six weeks of pregnancy or after the fetus's heartbeat can be detected, which can occur before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.

(Sources: Reuters, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Center for Reproductive Rights) (Reporting by Emma Batha @emmabatha; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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