Review Finds Global Trend Toward Liberalization of Abortion Laws

Since 1998, 16 countries have adopted more liberal abortion laws, a study published by the Guttmacher Institute reported. The report, released this week, examined changes in abortion laws between 1998 and 2007, and found that 16 countries increased the grounds on which abortions can be legally provided. An additional 10 countries maintained their current laws, but added supplements that increased access to abortion care.

In Latin America, major change occurred in Columbia, whose constitutional court struck down its blanket prohibition of abortion in 2006, and in Mexico City, whose government recently revised its laws to allow unrestricted access to abortion care up to 12 weeks’ gestation. In 2002, abortion access laws in Nepal were amended to allow abortion care up to 12 weeks’ gestation, as well as in cases of rape, incest, fetal impairment or risk to the mother. In 2003, the African Union ratified a protocol guaranteeing a woman the right to an abortion in cases of rape, incest, sexual assault or threat to the mother’s mental or physical health. This trend reflects international recognition of the negative effects abortion restrictions have on women.

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