As the SDP achieved more and more political success during this period, especially in northwestern Europe, governments became increasingly convinced by these heartbreaking stories. Many European countries subsequently expanded therapeutic conditions for legal abortions, but abortions performed at the request of a woman remained illegal. Public attention to women`s abortion needs in the 1960s went hand in hand with the emergence of the second wave of the feminist movement. Feminists in Europe and the United States began to mobilize on the issue of abortion. In Europe, where reformist movements had been present since the 1930s, feminists shifted attention from reform to repeal. In Poland, however, the Constitutional Court revoked women`s right to abortion in 2020, ruling that women can only have an abortion in cases of rape, incest or when their lives are in danger. Calls for abortion reform gained ground in almost every Western country in the 1960s and 1970s. By the late 1980s, abortion was legal in most Western European countries, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. As a result, hospitals set up committees on the defensive to legitimize the medical reasons for abortions. These efforts have increased the focus on abortion criminality and women seeking abortion services.
This, coupled with the absence of an abortion reform movement, has served to make abortion a closed issue in the United States. Measures that restrict women`s reproductive rights by introducing new barriers or eliminating or limiting the rights to abortion treatment violate the principle of non-regression under international human rights law. The laws of some European countries set the deadline for abortions on demand or for general social reasons between the 18th and 24th week of pregnancy, while others set the limit around the first trimester of pregnancy. However, all laws in these countries also allow access later in pregnancy in certain circumstances, such as when a woman`s health or life is at risk. The common practice in Europe is not to set deadlines for these justified reasons. American feminists have often based their arguments on abstract principles of individual rights. American feminists never directly challenged the belief that women had abortions. Instead, they emphasized women`s right to control their bodies without state interference.
The severe crackdown on abortion in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s created a discriminatory system with deadly consequences. Women and doctors who had seen the results of “clandestine” abortions became increasingly frustrated. Previously, (before 2010), criminal law criminalized abortions performed abroad if the woman resided in Liechtenstein and the abortion did not comply with Liechtenstein regulations.  CORRECTION: This article has been updated to correct the year Slovenia legalized abortion. This happened in 1952, when the country was part of the former Yugoslavia. An updated abortion law was passed in 1977. Here is a breakdown of abortion rights – and attitudes towards it – in Europe and around the world. 26 of the 28 Member States of the European Union allow abortion at the request of a woman or for general social reasons. 2 EU Member States do not allow this.
When large numbers of women are hospitalized for abortion-related complications, people cannot help but suffer the tragic consequences of criminalization. All other states legalize abortion on demand or for social and economic reasons during the first trimester. Abortion restrictions are most severe in some countries that adhere strongly to the Catholic religion.  In some European countries where abortion is legal, many doctors refuse to terminate a pregnancy on religious grounds, this is the case, for example, in Romania, where the Orthodox Church has a strong influence on the medical profession.  Abortion laws vary considerably from country and territory to country and have changed over time. These laws range from abortion, which is freely available on request, to regulations or restrictions of all kinds, to a total ban in all circumstances. Many countries and territories that allow abortion have pregnancy restrictions on the procedure, depending on the reason; The majority of them can go up to 12 weeks for abortion on demand, up to 24 weeks for rape, incest or socio-economic reasons, and more for a fetal malformation or a risk to the woman`s health or life. By 2022, countries that legally allow abortion on demand or for socio-economic reasons account for about 60% of the world`s population.
Historically, abortion policy revolved around three main actors: government officials, women, and doctors. The Great Depression led to a sharp increase in rates of legal and illegal abortion, which further widened the gap between European and American attitudes. Medical abortions, especially those performed with surgical instruments, have gained a reputation as a more effective and safer way to cause miscarriage. Practitioners most often used dilation and curettage — a procedure in which a woman`s cervix is dilated and a spoon-shaped instrument is inserted into the uterus to scrape fetal and placental tissue — to terminate pregnancies. As a result, in the twentieth century, abortion ceased to be a secret among women and became a publicly available service. In countries where abortion is illegal or restricted, it is common for women to travel to neighboring countries with more liberal laws. In 2007, it was estimated that more than 6,000 Irish women travelled to the UK each year for abortions.  But the Supreme Court did not call late-term abortion criminal. Instead, individual states could regulate abortions during the second and third trimesters of a woman`s pregnancy, as long as those laws do not affect the mother`s health. In the United States, the newly formed American Medical Association (AMA) launched an anti-abortion campaign in 1857 as part of its efforts to professionalize and limit competition from homeopaths and midwives. They campaigned for the criminalization of abortion and capitalized on fears that not enough native-born white women would have children. The history of abortion practices and policies reminds us that while people will likely continue to debate the origins of human life and a woman`s right to terminate her pregnancy, women will continue to have abortions.
The legal status of abortion will not determine whether a woman terminates an unwanted pregnancy, but rather whether she will have access to safe abortion services. French politicians suffered from fear when they learned that the France`s birth rate had fallen by nearly a third between 1870 and 1914, while that of its neighbor (and younger and future enemy) Germany had hardly changed. The idea that women should give birth to as many children as possible has become contagious. To convince the public that abortion was bad, some American doctors, as well as moral crusaders like Anthony Comstock, led a cultural campaign against abortion. The Comstock Act prohibited the distribution of “obscene” material, including contraceptives and information about contraceptives or abortion. Many birth control advocates, including Margaret Sanger, have been prosecuted under the law for mailing such documents. Instead, American anti-abortion activists portrayed women who procured abortions as frivolous and promised. Since the 1980s, opposition to abortion has become a fundamental tenet of Conservative politics. In their struggle to control women`s reproductive and sexual freedom, right-wing politicians have sought to restrict women`s access to legal abortion services. These changes inspired many Catholics to support AMA`s anti-abortion campaign. Protestant churches, with their doctrinal emphasis on individual reason and responsibility, remained more open to abortion and accepted more therapeutic abortion.
The former communist countries of Europe have liberal abortion laws. The only exception is Poland, where abortion is only allowed in cases where the woman`s life or health is in danger or if the pregnancy is due to rape or incest. Abortion for fetal malformations, which was previously legal, was declared unconstitutional by the country`s Constitutional Court on October 22, 2020.  UN independent human rights experts criticized the verdict and called on Polish authorities to respect the rights of those protesting against it.  The judgment entered into force on 27 January 2021.  In the late nineteenth century, American and European physicians, social reformers, clergy, and politicians made abortion a social, political, and religious issue.