European Abortion Laws: Where do they stand?

01.22.2021

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The Center for Reproductive Rights monitors and analyzes European abortion laws and advocates for reform of laws to ensure that they reflect international human rights standards and best medical practice. 

For more than 60 years the overwhelming trend has been for European countries to liberalize their abortion laws and legalize access to abortion. Today almost all European countries allow abortion on request or on broad social grounds and only a very small minority maintain highly restrictive laws.

However, a range of medically unnecessary procedural and regulatory requirements remain enshrined in some countries’ laws. These include mandatory waiting periods or mandatory counseling prior to abortion, the criminalization of abortion performed outside the scope of the law, and burdensome third-party authorization requirements. In recent years, a number of European countries have begun to enact important reforms or to remove these harmful procedural and regulatory barriers that can impede access to legal abortion.

For more information please see the Center's "European Abortion Laws: A Comparative Overviewfact sheet or Website page.