How abortions are regulated in Germany, Europe and North America

Abortion center in Dubai

A look at Germany’s neighboring countries shows that abortion are also regulate in the penal code elsewhere. In the USA, on the other hand, abortions are theoretically legal – and in Canada even in practice.

Abortion laws in different countries: an overview.

Germany is color blue on the world map of the organization Center for Reproductive Rights . For women, this means they can terminate their pregnancy of their own volition. Most other European countries as well as Canada and the USA also wear the color blue. According to the organization, 95 percent of European women live in countries where they can choose to have an abortion. In many African and South American countries, on the other hand, medical reasons are necessary. Sometimes the woman’s life has to be in danger for an abortion to be legal.

However: In contrast to other medical interventions, the procedure for an abortion in Germany is regulate in the penal code. Abortions are also criminalize in some neighboring countries. Pregnant women and doctors who do not want to pay a fine or go to prison must comply with legal requirements.

In the case of abortions at the woman’s request, this is usually a deadline and a consultation. In some countries, women are also require to declare that they are in distress. After the deadline has expire, termination without punishment is often only possible if there are medical reasons. This usually includes the fact that the woman is in mortal danger, her health is severely damage by the pregnancy or the child is born with a severe mental or physical impairment. If the woman has become pregnant as a result of rape, she is often also allow to have an abortion later.

What are the regulations in Germany, some neighboring countries and North America? An overview.


In the first twelve weeks after conception, women are free to have an abortion of their own volition. They usually bear the costs for this themselves. In three cases, the health insurance company will pay for an abortion: if the procedure has medical reasons, if there are criminological reasons (e.g. after rape) or if the woman’s income is low.

The Criminal Code requires counseling from a recognize body no later than three days before the abortion. The pregnant woman must prove that she has taken part in so-call pregnancy conflict counseling by means of a certificate. Otherwise the doctor is not allow to treat you.

In Section 219 of the Criminal Code , the first sentence on this subject reads: “Counseling serves to protect unborn life.” Counselors should endeavor to encourage the woman to continue the pregnancy. The unborn child has its own right to life at every stage of pregnancy. In practice, however, these requirements probably do not correspond. Advisors from Pro Familia and Arbeiterwohlfahrt emphasize to the editorial network Germany (RND) that their advice is impartial and open-end.


The Netherlands are consider very liberal. “An abortion can be perform before the fetus is viable outside the mother’s body. This usually means the 24th week of pregnancy,” the Dutch government informs on its website. In practice, however, Dutch doctors would only perform abortions up to the 22nd week if there is no medical indication. There are no costs for Dutch citizens. Foreign women have to pay for the abortion themselves.

If you want to have an abortion in the Netherlands, you should contact your family doctor or an abortion clinic directly. After a consultation there, five days must elapse before the actual intervention. However, if a woman’s period is less than 17 days late, there is no need for a five-day cooling-off period.


Just recently, people in Catholic Poland protest for weeks against a tightening of the already very restrictive abortion law there. Until then, abortions were only possible in Poland in three cases: if the woman was rape, if her life is in danger or if the unborn fetus was born with an incurable disease.

In October last year, however, the Polish constitutional court rule that women are no longer allow to abort fetuses with severe birth defects. In fact, this means that women also have to give birth to children who are so sick from birth that they die after a few days. Poles demonstrate for weeks against this change in the law. Probably tens of thousands of women have been having un want pregnancies abroad for a long time, writes the “Tagesschau”.


Within the first three months, women in Austria are allow to have an abortion without being punished if they have previously consulte a doctor. Social security only bears the costs if the abortion is medically indicated. In addition, the penal code stipulates that no one may be disadvantage if he or she carries out abortions without punishment or does not want to offer this treatment.


In France, according to information from the French administration , surgical abortions desired by women are allowed up to the twelfth week of pregnancy. Most women are allow to have an abortion up to the fifth week. During the corona pandemic, the period was extend to seven weeks.

Before having an abortion, women have to seek medical advice twice – from a doctor, from a family planning center or from a midwife. As in Germany, they receive a certificate for this. At the second consultation, the woman confirms in writing that she wishes to terminate the pregnancy. The costs are usually borne by the health insurance company.

In France, it is a punishable offense to obstruct abortion, for example through deliberate misinformation. “The crime is punishable by two years’ imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros,” the French administration said on its website.

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