Countries Where Abortion Is Illegal 2024: From Rights to Realities

abortion laws

Abortion, the act of ending a pregnancy through medical intervention, has long been a topic of intense debate. At its core, it’s not just a medical decision but one deeply intertwined with personal, moral, religious, and political sentiments.

The crux of the matter rests between a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body and the unborn fetus’s right to life. It’s a delicate balancing act of two profound rights, often viewed as opposing each other.

This intricate interplay of values is reflected in the diverse abortion regulations across countries and even among U.S. states, emphasizing the complexity and sensitivity of the issue.

Navigating the Intricacies of Abortion Laws 


Abortion laws present a tapestry of variations worldwide. By 2021, a striking number of 24 countries completely prohibit abortion, no exceptions.

However, the majority of nations take a more layered stance. Gestational limits, ranging broadly from 6 to 24 weeks, are often set to define the timeframe within which abortion is permissible. Many laws pivot around milestones in fetal development, with 12 weeks being a common benchmark.

There are exceptions, often anchored in unique circumstances. For instance, many countries recognize cases involving rape, incest, or significant fetal abnormalities as legitimate grounds for abortion. Interestingly, gender-specific abortions are permitted in some Asian countries, reflecting cultural preferences for male offspring.

A mother’s well-being is paramount. In 37 countries, abortion becomes an option if it’s essential to save the mother’s life. Some extend this exception to situations where the mother’s overall health during pregnancy might be jeopardized, like in the case of ectopic pregnancies.

These occur when the embryo settles outside the uterus, such as in the fallopian tubes, making it unsustainable and potentially life-threatening for the mother.

Economic considerations also play a role. In specific regions, if bringing the pregnancy to full term would plunge the woman into debilitating financial distress, abortion becomes an available choice. Research underscores the economic repercussions of restricted abortion access, with affected women facing a heightened risk of falling into poverty.

Many countries layer their laws with supplementary guidelines. They might necessitate parental or spousal consent, limit access to fetal gender detection methods, or even mandate that the woman undergoes an ultrasound or listens to the fetus’s heartbeat before making her decision.

In essence, abortion laws are multifaceted, reflecting the intricate interplay of ethics, cultural values, and socio-economic realities.

Countries in Which Abortion Is Completely Illegal/prohibited*:

Andorra Haiti Malta Republic of the Congo
Aruba Honduras Mauritania San Marino
Curaçao (territory) Iraq Nicaragua Senegal
Dominican Republic Jamaica Palau Sierra Leone
Laos Palestine Suriname Tonga
El Salvador Madagascar Philippines

The table above includes only countries in which abortion has been completely prohibited. For a more complete and detailed list of countries and their various legal stances on abortion, see the table further down the page.

The Unseen Consequences of Outlawing Abortion

While the conversation around abortion often focuses on morality and rights, there’s a tangible side to this issue that is frequently overlooked: the practical effects of making abortion illegal.

World Health Organization (WHO) data paints a telling picture. The frequency of abortions remains relatively consistent irrespective of their legal status in a country. Simply put, outlawing abortion doesn’t curtail its occurrence. However, the safety net provided by legal channels becomes inaccessible, dramatically affecting the safety of these procedures.

When women lack legal avenues, many are compelled to seek underground or “DIY” abortion methods. These illegal methods might involve non-medical practitioners, unsanitary environments, or hazardous techniques, increasing the risks of complications, infections, and even death.

In essence, the debate isn’t about whether abortions will happen – it’s about ensuring they are safe for women. By making abortions illegal, we may inadvertently be trading a regulated, clinical process for clandestine, high-risk alternatives.

A Glimpse into Abortion Laws of Key Nations

1. United States:

Where is Abortion Illegal in US

    • The U.S.’s stance on abortion saw a seismic shift in 2022. The historic 1973 Roe v. Wade judgment, which legalized abortion across the nation, was nullified by the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
    • Prior to the 1973 decision, abortion was prohibited in 30 states. Following the 2022 judgment, more than 20 states moved rapidly to reinstate the ban, largely in the central and southern U.S. Some were ‘trigger laws’ activated by Roe v. Wade’s overturning.

The emerging restrictions on abortion appear to be tougher now than they were in the pre-Roe v. Wade era, exemplified by a Texas law enabling individuals to sue abortion providers or anyone assisting in the process.

2. Brazil:

      • While Brazil does not entirely ban abortion, its regulations are stringent. Exceptions include rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is at stake – conditions fairly common in global abortion laws.


3. Canada:

        • Canada stands at the liberal end of the spectrum. Abortions are permissible without a specified reason but are subject to gestational limits, which vary between provinces and territories (from 12 weeks up to almost 25 weeks).
        • Abortions were once largely illegal until 1988 when the Canadian Supreme Court abolished the restrictive laws. Most abortions are free of charge under Canada’s national health system, depending on the place of procedure.

4. Russia:

    • Russia permits abortions up to the 12th week of pregnancy. For rape victims, the limit extends to 22 weeks, and for pregnancies endangering the mother’s life, there’s no gestational constraint.
    • Russia was groundbreaking in 1920 when it legalized abortion for any cause, though a broad ban was later introduced in 1936. However, this prohibition was rescinded in 1955, and Russia has since then maintained open access to abortion. As of 2010, it held the highest number of abortions per capita globally.

List of Countries of The World and Their Abortion Laws:

Abortion and Law World Map

The table below displays the general details of each country’s legal stance on abortion.

  • On Request — Abortion for any reason is legal, though gestational limits still apply.
  • Save Life — Abortion is legal when necessary to save the life of the woman.
  • Physical Health — Abortion is legal when pregnancy risks significant (but non-fatal) injury to the woman.
  • Mental Health — Abortion is legal when pregnancy puts the woman’s mental/emotional health at risk.
  • Rape — Abortion is legal when the pregnancy is the result of rape.
  • Incest — Abortion is legal when the pregnancy is the result of incest.
  • Cognitively Disabled — Abortion is legal when the woman is mentally or cognitively disabled.
  • Fetal Impairment — Abortion is legal when the fetus is known to have significant mental disabilities or physical malformations. As these can range from non-life-threatening conditions such as Down Syndrome to 100% fatal conditions such as anencephaly, more granular guidelines are often necessary.
  • Socioeconomic — Abortion is legal when the woman is financially unable to support the child.
Country Abortion on Request
Afghanistan To save the mother’s life
Albania No restriction
Algeria To preserve physical/mental health
Andorra Prohibited altogether
Angola Prohibited altogether
Antigua And Barbuda To save the mother’s life
Argentina No restriction
Armenia No restriction
Australia No restriction
Austria No restriction
Azerbaijan No restriction
Bahamas To preserve physical health
Bahrain No restriction
Bangladesh To save the mother’s life
Barbados To preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds
Belarus No restriction
Belgium No restriction
Belize To preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds
Benin To preserve physical health
Bhutan To save the mother’s life
Bolivia To preserve physical health
Bosnia And Herzegovina No restriction
Botswana To preserve physical/mental health
Brazil To save the mother’s life
Bulgaria No restriction
Burkina Faso To preserve physical health
Burundi To preserve physical health
Cambodia No restriction
Cameroon To preserve physical health
Canada No restriction
Cape Verde No restriction
Central African Republic To preserve physical health
Chad To preserve physical health
Chile To save the mother’s life
Colombia To preserve physical/mental health
Comoros To preserve physical health
Costa Rica To preserve physical health
Croatia No restriction
Cuba No restriction
Cyprus To preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds
Czech Republic No restriction
Denmark No restriction
Djibouti To preserve physical health
Dominica To save the mother’s life
Dominican Republic Prohibited altogether
Dr Congo Prohibited altogether
Ecuador To preserve physical health
Egypt To save the mother’s life
El Salvador Prohibited altogether
Equatorial Guinea To preserve physical health
Eritrea To preserve physical/mental health
Estonia No restriction
Eswatini To preserve physical/mental health
Ethiopia To preserve physical health
Fiji To preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds
Finland To preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds
France No restriction
Gabon Prohibited altogether
Gambia To preserve physical/mental health
Germany No restriction
Ghana To preserve physical/mental health
Greece No restriction
Grenada To preserve physical health
Guatemala To save the mother’s life
Guinea To preserve physical health
Guyana No restriction
Haiti Prohibited altogether
Honduras Prohibited altogether
Hong Kong To preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds
Hungary No restriction
Iceland To preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds
India To preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds
Indonesia To save the mother’s life
Iran To save the mother’s life
Iraq Prohibited altogether
Ireland No restriction before 12 weeks
Israel To preserve physical/mental health
Italy No restriction
Ivory Coast To save the mother’s life
Jamaica To preserve physical/mental health
Japan To preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds
Jordan To preserve physical health
Kazakhstan No restriction
Kenya To preserve physical health
Kiribati To save the mother’s life
Kuwait To preserve physical health
Kyrgyzstan No restriction
Laos Prohibited altogether
Latvia No restriction
Lebanon To save the mother’s life
Lesotho To preserve physical health
Liberia To preserve physical/mental health
Libya To save the mother’s life
Liechtenstein To preserve physical health
Lithuania No restriction
Luxembourg No restriction
Madagascar Prohibited altogether
Malawi To save the mother’s life
Malaysia To preserve physical/mental health
Maldives To preserve physical health
Mali To save the mother’s life
Malta Prohibited altogether
Marshall Islands Prohibited altogether
Mauritania Prohibited altogether
Mauritius To preserve physical/mental health
Mexico To save the mother’s life
Micronesia Prohibited altogether
Moldova No restriction
Monaco To preserve physical health
Mongolia No restriction
Montenegro No restriction
Morocco To preserve physical health
Mozambique To preserve physical/mental health
Myanmar To save the mother’s life
Namibia To preserve physical/mental health
Nauru To preserve physical/mental health
Nepal No restriction
Netherlands No restriction
New Zealand No restriction before 20 weeks
Nicaragua Prohibited altogether
Niger To preserve physical health
Nigeria To save the mother’s life
North Korea No restriction
North Macedonia No restriction
Norway No restriction
Oman To save the mother’s life
Pakistan To preserve physical health
Palau Prohibited altogether
Panama To save the mother’s life
Papua New Guinea To save the mother’s life
Paraguay To save the mother’s life
Peru To preserve physical health
Philippines Prohibited altogether
Poland To preserve physical health
Portugal No restriction
Qatar To preserve physical health
Republic Of The Congo Prohibited altogether
Romania No restriction
Russia No restriction
Rwanda To preserve physical health
Saint Kitts And Nevis To preserve physical/mental health
Saint Lucia To preserve physical/mental health
Saint Vincent And The Grenadines To preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds
Samoa To preserve physical/mental health
San Marino Prohibited altogether
Sao Tome And Principe Prohibited altogether
Saudi Arabia To preserve physical health
Senegal Prohibited altogether
Serbia No restriction
Seychelles To preserve physical/mental health
Sierra Leone To preserve physical/mental health
Singapore No restriction
Slovakia No restriction
Slovenia No restriction
Solomon Islands To save the mother’s life
Somalia To save the mother’s life
South Africa No restriction
South Korea To preserve physical health
South Sudan To save the mother’s life
Spain No restriction
Sri Lanka To save the mother’s life
Sudan To save the mother’s life
Suriname Prohibited altogether
Sweden No restriction
Switzerland No restriction
Syria To save the mother’s life
Taiwan To preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds
Tajikistan No restriction
Tanzania To save the mother’s life
Thailand To preserve physical/mental health
Timor Leste To save the mother’s life
Togo To preserve physical health
Tonga Prohibited altogether
Trinidad And Tobago To preserve physical/mental health
Tunisia No restriction
Turkey No restriction
Turkmenistan No restriction
Tuvalu To save the mother’s life
Uganda To save the mother’s life
Ukraine No restriction
United Arab Emirates To save the mother’s life
United Kingdom To preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds
United States Varies by state
Uruguay No restriction
Uzbekistan No restriction
Vanuatu To preserve physical health
Venezuela To save the mother’s life
Vietnam No restriction
Yemen To save the mother’s life
Zambia To preserve health/on socioeconomic grounds
Zimbabwe To preserve physical health

Final Words

Abortion laws and regulations reflect the socio-cultural and ethical values of each country. While it’s important to acknowledge and respect individual and collective beliefs, the impact of these laws on women’s health and well-being cannot be ignored.

The essence of the debate revolves not only around personal or religious convictions but also on the practical and real-world consequences of these decisions. Policies that strike a balance between these aspects are crucial for the betterment of society at large.

Ultimately, ensuring access to safe and legal abortion services not only respects women’s rights but also serves as a preventive measure against potential health hazards.

The ongoing dialogues and debates surrounding abortion emphasize the importance of understanding diverse perspectives and finding a middle ground in a complex and sensitive issue.

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