The joint EPF-IPPF EN “European Abortion Policies Atlas” scores 52 European countries and territories on legal frameworks to access safe abortion care and clearly shows that Europe is not as progressive as it might seem.
This first in-depth analysis of abortion policies across Europe finds that legislation on abortion care throughout the region is a diverse legislative and administrative patchwork - the consequence being that women’s experience of abortion care largely depends upon their postcode:
- 31 countries don’t include abortion in the national health system’s financial coverage - this penalises all women and girls, but specifically the vulnerable (e.g. low income, living in rural areas, Roma, sex workers and undocumented migrants).
- 19 countries, including several known for progressive stances, force women to endure medically unnecessary requirements before accessing abortion care (compulsory and sometimes biased counselling, forced waiting periods).
- A safe, voluntary abortion should not be treated as a crime. And yet, 16 countries in Europe regulate abortion care primarily through their criminal and/or penal code.
- 26 countries allow health workers to deny care on the basis of their personal beliefs or convenience, thus potentially placing women in serious danger.
- 18 European countries fail to provide people with clear and accurate information about abortion care.
Governments have a responsibility to safeguard the right of women and girls to lead free and safe reproductive lives without discrimination and coercion. We call on governments to:
- Modernise abortion laws (decriminalise abortion laws, extend time limits)
- Ensure that abortion care is covered by the national health system
- Remove unnecessary obstacles in accessing abortion care following WHO recommendations
- Prohibit health providers from legally opting out of any part of the full spectrum of reproductive health care
- Provide accurate information about abortion care.