When it comes to politics and controversial issues, it’s a popular tactic by progressive voters to compare the United States to other countries – primarily those in Europe. This time, however, we won’t be surprised if they stay silent on the predominant view of these countries when it comes to abortion limits.
Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, published a study which reveals that the majority of European countries limit elective abortions (those performed “without restriction as to reason”) to no later than 12 weeks. In fact, of the 50 European and Asian countries analyzed, 42 allow elective abortion and 39 “limit elective abortion to 15 weeks’ gestation or earlier.”
If abortion bans centered around 15 weeks sounds familiar, that’s because that’s the limit Mississippi enacted in 2018. This law was challenged in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked enforcement of it, citing that it was in conflict with Roe v. Wade. However, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) agreed to hear the case during its next term, which begins on the first Monday in October. Should SCOTUS side with Mississippi, it will provide monumental backing for future pro-life laws – and it will allow Mississippi to enforce a law that resembles the legislative standard in European countries.
- 5 countries limit elective abortion to 10 weeks’ gestation:
- Croatia, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey
- 27 countries limit elective abortion to 12 weeks’ gestation:
- Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Moldova, Northern Ireland, North Macedonia, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Ukraine
- 2 countries limit elective abortion to between 12 and 14 weeks’ gestation:
- Austria and Italy (90 days)
- 5 countries limit elective abortion to 14 weeks’ gestation:
- Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Romania, and Spain
It is also important to note that Sweden bans abortions after 18 weeks, beating out all currently enforced U.S. abortion limitations. Iceland (22 weeks) and the Netherlands (24 weeks) more closely resemble the majority of current U.S. state regulations.
Eight other countries require at least some sort of reasoning to obtain an abortion. These reasons range from saving the life of the mother to those most permissive of abortion (socioeconomic grounds). These countries include:
- Completely prohibited:
- Andorra, Malta and San Marino
- To preserve the health or life of the mother:
- Lichtenstein, Monaco and Poland
- Socioeconomic grounds:
- Finland and Great Britain
With 39 European countries banning abortion earlier than the 15-week limit made in the Mississippi case (and another three banning abortions altogether), the United States stands in the minority viewpoint on when an abortion is acceptable. Currently, Mississippi has the strictest abortion law in the country at 20 weeks. If Mississippi law tightened this window to 15 weeks, it wouldn’t be creating any unheard-of legislature – it would actually bring the state in line with most of the Western world.
But it isn’t just Europe against whom the United States holds the minority opinion – it is the whole world. A fact check performed by The Washington Post confirmed that the United States is one of only seven nations (out of 198 recognized countries) that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy (although this has increased to eight with Iceland). These countries are Canada, China, Iceland, the Netherlands, North Korea, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. The Mississippi 15-week abortion ban may be one of the strictest in the U.S., but it is one of the more lenient bans in the world.
Republican Senators Ted Cruz (Texas), Josh Hawley (Missouri) and Mike Lee (Utah) all recently filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court regarding the Mississippi case, petitioning the Court to overturn both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey and return the question of abortion legislation back to the states.
Focus on the Family continues to affirm that life begins at conception and that abortion is morally wrong in all cases except that in which the mother’s life is in grave danger, which is incredibly rare – and there are pro-life options. We continue to affirm that all human life is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and, because of this truth, it has inherent value. But we must point out that Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban is by no means radical – even from a worldly, secular viewpoint—it is actually the standard. Though our desire is that we could see abortion outlawed in the United States and around the world, Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban has provided the Supreme Court an opportunity to recognize the inherent value of the preborn baby and affirm his or her personhood.
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