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FACTBOX: As Mexico decriminalises abortion, what are the laws worldwide?

by Sonia Elks and Emma Batha | @SoniaElks | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 8 September 2021 16:00 GMT

A woman holds a banner which reads "Free abort" during a protest to celebrate the decision of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) that declared the criminalization of abortion as unconstitutional, in Saltillo, Mexico September 7, 2021. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

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With Mexico decriminalising abortion, here is a round-up of abortion laws worldwide

By Sonia Elks and Emma Batha

Sept 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Pro-choice campaigners celebrated as Mexico's top court ruled to decriminalise abortion on Wednesday, hailed as a "watershed moment" for women's rights in the majority-Catholic nation.

From Argentina to the United States, abortion rights have been in the spotlight worldwide, with opponents citing religious beliefs to declare it immoral, while advocates say a woman should have the right to choose on matters affecting her body.

Here are some facts about abortion laws around the world:


A total of 24 countries ban abortion outright, even when a woman's life is at risk, according to latest published data from the Center for Reproductive Rights. These nations are home to 90 million women of reproductive age, 5% of the global total. The list includes El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mauritania, Madagascar, Senegal, Egypt, Iraq, Laos, and the Philippines.


42 countries allow abortion where the woman's life is at risk, including Chile, Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran. Another 51 nations allow abortion to protect a woman's health.


Abortion is allowed on broad social or economic grounds that consider a woman's circumstances in 13 countries, including Finland, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Japan, India and Barbados.


A total of 73 countries allow abortion on request, without the need to provide a reason, although gestational limits vary. They cover more than a third of all women of reproductive age worldwide, or about 600 million women.


More than 10 countries need a woman's spouse to give permission for an abortion to go ahead, including Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco, while 40 nations require a patient's parents to be informed or asked to consent.


Argentina last year joined Uruguay, Cuba, and Guyana as one of only four countries in the region to legalize abortion. In El Salvador, some women have received sentences of more than 30 years for abortion-related offences.


More than 50 countries have liberalised their abortion laws over the past 25 years. They include some 19 which have overturned complete bans on abortion, including Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia.


Abortion rights hotspots in 2021 as Mexico decriminalises terminations - 

Women's movement sweeps Latin America to loosen abortion restrictions 

U.S. states making 2021 moves on abortion rights and access 

Sources: Center for Reproductive Rights, Guttmacher Institute, Reuters

(Reporting by Sonia Elks, Editing by Kieran Guilbert; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.