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These Countries Have the World's Toughest Abortion Laws

The list includes the Philippines.
by Reuters
Dec 9, 2021
People gather outside the Supreme Court building on the day of arguments in the Mississippi abortion rights case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, in Washington, U.S., Dec. 1, 2021.
Photo/s: Jonathan Ernst, Reuters
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The United States is among several countries to have considered tightening anti-abortion laws, creating new challenges for women wanting to access safe and timely care to terminate a pregnancy.

Here are some key facts on the world's strictest anti-abortion laws, based on information from the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Guttmacher Institute, and the World Health Organization:

- There are 24 countries where abortion is prohibited altogether. Unsafe abortions are more common in countries with restrictive laws, and around 40% of women of reproductive age still live in places where access is illegal or limited.

- Anti-abortion laws in the Philippines derive from its time as a colony of Spain. Abortion has been prohibited for over a century, and about 1,000 Filipino women die each year from complications. Spain, meanwhile, is among more than 50 countries which have liberalised abortion laws over the last 25 years.

- El Salvador has some of the world's most draconian laws. The procedure has been banned without exception since 1998. More than 180 women who experienced obstetric emergencies were prosecuted for abortion or aggravated homicide in the last 20 years.

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- Women in Malta are denied access to abortion entirely, even if their lives are at risk. It is the only EU member state that prohibits the procedure and women, who could face up to three years in jail, are often left with no option but to order pills or travel abroad.

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- In Senegal, the abortion law is "restrictive and unclear". The country completely prohibits it but the code of medical ethics allows it if three doctors agree it is needed to save a woman's life. A 2014 study showed the rules force women to seek clandestine abortions and, as a last resort, kill their own infants.

- In the UAE, abortion is illegal except if the pregnancy endangers the woman's life or there is evidence the baby will not survive. Women could face up to one year in prison and/or a hefty fine. Women who seek hospital treatment for a miscarriage may be accused of attempted abortion.

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