Let’s face it. Shit happens when we travel. A drunken night out can lead to a hookup, and we all know what that can lead to. An unplanned pregnancy is a fact of life, and, unfortunately, a reality for many girl travelers. Regardless of your personal feelings about the subject, abortion is still a legal option in many countries, and we can all agree that it’s best to be informed.
Given that the Middle East lies on the continent of Asia, the number of countries in which abortion is legal for all reasons is relatively small. Doctors in China perform the most abortions in the region, and is considered one of the safest places to have the procedure done. Abortion is legal in Thailand, but somewhat restricted unless the physical or mental health of the mother is in danger due to the pregnancy. Other countries with no legal restrictions or few restrictions on abortion include Cambodia, Singapore, Turkey, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam, among others. Abortion is illegal, or has poorly defined exceptions, in Laos and the Philippines. Abortions are performed for most reasons in India, but the World Health Organization has found their practices to be substandard and generally unsafe.
Most countries in Europe offer legal abortion on demand during the first trimester. Poland is an exception, and doctors there can perform abortions only if the woman was a victim of rape, or her health is in danger. Ireland also has more strict laws pertaining to abortion, but many women seeking an abortion simply travel to England for the procedure. Countries that offer legal abortion services in Europe also have well trained practitioners who work under excellent conditions.
Fourteen countries in Africa prohibit abortion on all grounds. However, many countries have inexplicit or poorly defined laws regarding abortion in the case of rape or maternal health. Only three countries allow abortion for any reason, and those are South Africa, Cape Verde, and Tunisia. Zambia also allows abortion for most reasons, including maternal physical and mental health. The World Health Organization has also found that the abortion practices in those countries with restrictive laws tend to be unsafe.
South America and the Caribbean
In general, South America has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, perhaps due to religious issues and opposition to abortion reform is high. Abortion is entirely prohibited in Chile, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haití, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Suriname. Abortions are performed only to save the life of the mother or in the case of rape or fetal impairment in Brazil and Panama, and some countries, such as Venezuela, Paraguay, Uruguay, Costa Rica, ecuador and Colombia have exceptions for maternal physical and mental health, but, at times, the laws defining the exceptions can be subjective and vague. The quality of medical care in the countries that do provide abortions is generally good.
Obtaining a safe and legal abortion is relatively simple in the United States and very simple in Canada. Canada’s laws regarding abortion are very liberal, and most abortions are performed on demand and with no time limit. Each individual state in the USA has varying laws regarding a time limit (usually the first trimester), a mandatory ultrasound, and a mandatory waiting period after the ultrasound before the patient can undergo the procedure. Abortion laws in Mexico are different from state to state, and Mexico City is the only area where access to an abortion is widely available. Other areas in Mexico provide abortions in the case of risk to maternal health, fetal malformations, rape, and poverty, but facilities in these areas are few and far between, and may not meet safety standards.
Making tough decisions is a part of travel, and a part of life. Having factual information to use when making any decision is an important aspect, and helps ensure that the outcome is one that is right for the individual. When it comes to a woman’s sexual health, she is the one who must decide what is right for her, no matter where she is in the world.
Please remember that laws in various countries can and do change without notice. This information was sourced from the Guttmacher Institute, a world leader in public health statistics. For more information, please check carefully the laws in your particular area, or speak with your healthcare provider.