UN report shows only a minority of countries allow unfettered abortion

A recent United Nations report on international abortion policies reveals that, while most countries worldwide allow abortion in extreme cases in order to save the life of the mother, only a minority allow abortion on demand.

The July 2007 Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, report stated that abortion on demand is only permitted in 28 per cent of the world’s countries. The percentage in the developing world is even lower – 15 per cent of those countries offer abortion on request.

The percentage of countries that allow abortion due to “fetal impairment” is also a minority, with 45 per cent offering the option. There is a strongly marked divide, however, between the wealthier and poorer regions of the world in regard to this so-called ground for abortion. A total of 84 per cent of the richer regions allow abortion for “fetal impairment” versus only 32 per cent of the poorer regions.

The regions are even more divided over the issue of allowing abortion for economic or social reasons. In the wealthier ones, 78 per cent favour abortion on these grounds, whereas only 19 per cent of the poorer areas permit it. Similarly, in the case of rape or incest, the percentage of wealthy versus developing regions is 84 per cent to 37 per cent.

To “preserve mental health” is considered a legitimate excuse by 86 per cent of the wealthier regions, but only a slim 57 per cent majority of the poorer ones permit it on this ground. Similarly, in order to “preserve physical health,” the ratio of wealthier-to-poor permission is 88 per cent to 60 per cent. These two reasons are medically vague, however, and they are often interpreted in numerous different ways. As a result, they easily become the legal crack in a country’s abortion legislation and often lead to de facto abortion on demand.

The report noted that besides the seven arguments for abortion mentioned above, many countries have additional laws protecting the unborn child. These include: “gestational limits within which abortion may be performed, mandatory waiting periods, parental or spousal consent, third-party authorization, the categories of health providers permitted to perform abortions, the types of medical facilities where abortions may be performed and mandatory counselling.”

Finally, basing its numbers on 2000-2005 statistics, the report stated that the world fertility rate is 2.6 children born to each woman during her lifetime. At the same time, there is another sharp divide between the fertility rate in the developing countries (2.9 children per woman) and the wealthier countries (1.6 children per woman).

This story originally appeared August 16 at LifeSiteNews.com and is reprinted with permission.

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