Abortion Laws and Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is a global problem, affecting the lives of women and girls of all ages and of all types of backgrounds. Victims of sexual abuse may suffer from a number of physical, emotional and psychological injuries, profoundly impacting all aspects of their lives. When sexual assault results in a pregnancy, the harm experienced may be exponentially exacerbated; particularly, in countries with restrictive abortion laws, where such pregnancies leave women with the dire choice between carrying the pregnancy to term or undergoing a clandestine, unsafe abortion. This fact sheet provides an overview of legal abortion when pregnancy results from rape along with standards established by UN human rights treaty bodies and the World Health Organization on abortion and the provision of emergency contraception following sexual violence.