Abortion in Europe: accessibility and


B. Pinter*, E. Aubeny**, G. Bartfai***, O. Loeber****, S.

Ozalp*****, A. Webb******.

*Dept. of Ob/Gyn,

University Medical Center, Ljubljana, Slovenia. **Family planning Center,

Broussais Hospital, Paris, France; ***Dept. of Ob/Gyn, Faculty of General

Medicine, Szeged, Hungary. **** The Mildredhouse, Center for sexuality,

anticonception and abortion, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. ******Dept. of Ob/Gyn,

Faculty of Medicine, Osmangazi University, Eskisehir, Turkey. ******Abacus

Centres for Contraception and Reproductive Health, Liverpool, United


Objectives: The accessibility and availability of abortion is a

reflection of abortion law and the accessibility and availability of abortion

service in a particular country. The examples from some European countries with

different political, cultural, social and religious backgrounds (the

Netherlands, France, United Kingdom, Slovenia, Hungary and Turkey) are


Results: Abortion laws in Europe range from complete

prohibition to complete liberalisation of abortion law (abortion on request).

In the Netherlands, with one the lowest abortion rates in the world (8/1000

women aged 15-44 years), abortion can be performed on request until 22 weeks of

pregnancy, but in the other countries mainly until 10-12 weeks of pregnancy. In

Great Britain abortion is permitted on socio-economic grounds until 24 weeks of

pregnancy. Some countries demand waiting period for the procedure (the

Netherlands, France, Hungary), pre-abortion counselling (the Netherlands,

France-for minors only, Hungary) and parental approval for minors (the

Netherlands-conditionally, Great Britain-conditionally, Hungary, Turkey) and in

the others (e.g. Slovenia) there is no obligation. Abortions are generally

performed in authorized facilities by gynaecologists or general practitioners –

GPs (the Netherlands, France; in Turkey GPs, with a qualification certificate,

can perform only menstrual regulation, under the supervision of a

gynaecologist) or only gynaecologists (Slovenia, Hungary). In Great Britain

abortions are performed by gynaecologists or by specialists in contraception

and reproductive health. Abortion service is easy accessible, in terms of

available facilities and health insurance coverage of the procedure, in the

Netherlands, France and Slovenia. Abortion service is less accessible in Great

Britain (due to limited availability of abortion service in some regions), in

Hungary (due to high abortion fees not covered by health insurance) and Turkey

(due to limited access to abortion service in rural areas). There is no report

on illegal and unsafe abortions in these countries. The main religion in a

particular country mostly does not interfere with the abortion policy; however,

there has been a tendency is some Eastern European countries in the last

decade, through the activities of Catholic Church, to limit the availability

and access to abortion. 

Conclusions: Abortion in Europe is mainly well accessible in terms

of abortion law. Some differences are evident in accessibility of abortion

service among different countries and in some countries, among different areas

in the country. Western European countries have in general improved the

availability and access to abortion lately. On the other hand, in the last

decade in some Eastern European countries, in the transition period of the

political systems, trends towards limitation of availability and access to

abortion have been noted, influenced mainly by religion.


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