How America’s Abortion Law Compares to Other Countries



Abortion in Italy is largely legal and free, but almost three-quarters of doctors there are registered as conscientious objectors and are exempt from performing abortions for religious or moral reasons. Other doctors are feeling pressure from their colleagues not to perform abortions, Professor Mishtal and his colleagues found. “It has a chilling effect,” she said. “There is a huge gap between the law and actual access.”

In other wealthy democracies, abortion is covered by public health insurance. The same goes for other forms of reproductive health care, including contraception. In Ireland, for example, the cost of an abortion is fully covered, the procedure can be performed by a GP and there is a government helpline on how to get an abortion or reach a nurse during recovery. .

The United States prohibits federal funding of abortions in most cases. Also, abortions tend to be performed only in specialized clinics, often far from where the women live. In peer countries, they are more likely to be offered in regular hospitals and medical clinics.

Most European countries arrived at their abortion laws through legislation involving political compromise. In the United States, the viability threshold has its origins in the Supreme Court. Michael New, an associate fellow at the Catholic University of America who supports more US restrictions on abortion, said this difference in process may explain why the gestation limit in US law is later than in most countries. peer countries.

“A legal debate, based on precedent, can be very different from a democratic debate or a moral debate,” he said in an email.

The United States also has the distinction of having such a wide range of laws by state, a feature that will be magnified if Roe is overturned. “In California abortion access is quite similar to abortion access in the UK, whereas in Texas right now abortion access is really among the most restrictive in the world. world,” said Caitlin Gerdts, vice president of Ibis Reproductive Health, a research organization. group.

The very nature of illegal abortion around the world is changing due to the availability of pills that can terminate a pregnancy. Historically, countries without legal abortion tended to have high rates of unsafe abortion. But pills that cause abortions are safe and easy to carry. The most effective protocol studied involves two drugs. But only one, misoprostol, an ulcer drug on the World Health Organization’s “essential medicines” list, causes complete abortion in about 80% of cases or more, according to recent research.

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