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FACTBOX - Argentina approves abortion but what are the laws globally?

by Emma Batha | @emmabatha | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 30 December 2020 22:01 GMT

Demonstrators in favour of legalizing abortion react after the senate passed an abortion bill, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 30, 2020. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

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With Argentina set to become the 67th country to allow terminations on request, here is a round-up of abortion laws worldwide

By Emma Batha

LONDON, Dec 30 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Argentina became the first major country in Latin America to legalize abortion on Wednesday, permitting terminations up to 14 weeks, a triumph for women's rights campaigners in a region with some of the world's most draconian restrictions.

The vote followed strong opposition from the Catholic Church.

Here are some facts about abortion laws around the world:

* OUTRIGHT BAN - 24 countries ban abortion outright, even when a woman's life is at risk. These countries are home to 96 million women of reproductive age, 5% of the global total.

* The list includes El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mauritania, Madagascar, Senegal, Egypt, Iraq, Malta, Laos, Dominican Republic and the Philippines.

* ABORTION RESTRICTED - 41 countries restrict abortion but allow it to save a woman's life. These laws apply to some 400 million women of reproductive age, 21% of the total. Twelve of them also include additional grounds such as rape, incest and fetal impairment.

* ONLY TO PROTECT A WOMAN'S HEALTH - 57 countries allow abortion to preserve a woman's health. Only 25 explicitly mention mental as well as physical health.

* SOCIAL OR ECONOMIC GROUNDS - Abortion is allowed on broad social or economic grounds that consider the woman's circumstances in 11 countries, which are home to 400 million women of reproductive age, or 21% of the global total.

* ON REQUEST - 66 countries allow abortion on request although gestational limits vary. These laws apply to 37% of women of reproductive age or about 700 million women. Argentina will make this 67 countries once the president finalises the law.

* WHERE HAVE LAWS REFORMED - In the last 25 years at least 15 countries, aside from Argentina, have reformed their laws to allow abortion on request, and 18, including Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia, have overturned complete bans on abortion.

* LATIN AMERICA - Argentina joins Uruguay, Cuba, and Guyana as one of only four countries in the region to legalize abortion.

* 32 in every 1,000 women in Latin America and the Caribbean had an abortion every year between 2015 and 2019 despite strict bans on terminations and the threat of harsh penalties in some cases.

* In El Salvador, some women have received sentences of more than 30 years for abortion-related offences.

Sources: Guttmacher Institute, Reuters.


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(Reporting by Emma Batha @emmabatha; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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