Our Map of the Region

A three colour map from least to most restrictive abortion laws and policies

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Navigating abortion laws and policies

Abortion is essential healthcare and is common worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), six out of 10 of all unintended pregnancies end in an induced abortion. Despite its prevalence, the regulation of abortion often tends to be overly stringent, restricting access to this essential healthcare. The climate of excessive regulations and restrictions on abortion often hampers individuals from exercising their right to make informed decisions about their own bodies, undermining sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The region of the Mediterranean basin stands as a microcosm of the varying approaches to abortion across different countries, characterized by a spectrum of laws, policies and regulations that range from highly restrictive to more promising and supportive of sexual and reproductive health and rights. While some countries in our region have laws and policies that severely curtail access to safe and legal abortion, imposing burdensome requirements and limitations on those seeking these services, others embrace more progressive approaches to abortion care, recognizing it as an essential aspect of healthcare and personal autonomy.

This legislation map serves to demonstrate the diversity of abortion laws, policies and regulations in the Mediterranean region with the aim to provide an overview and to promote accountability of states and health systems. However, it’s important to underline that the mere legality of abortion does not necessarily guarantee its accessibility. We acknowledge that access to abortion can be influenced by various factors beyond legal and policy frameworks. Socioeconomic disparities, cultural norms, healthcare infrastructure, as well as other personal circumstances, can significantly impact an individual’s ability to access abortion, even in cases where the laws and policies technically permit abortion. We therefore present this legislative map to illustrate one of the facets of the abortion landscape across the Mediterranean, and not as a definitive resource for abortion access in the region.

From criminalization to legalization

Abortion is criminalized in almost all countries under certain circumstances. Canada stands out as the only country where no criminal penalties are stipulated for abortion. Criminalization of abortion reflects the exceptional treatment of abortion in legal texts; imposing criminal sanctions on healthcare services is an uncommon occurrence. Usually, such services are governed within the sphere of healthcare regulations.

Criminal penalties apply to abortion across the countries of the Mediterrenean to varying degrees, while some countries impose criminal penalties on women seeking abortions, some others also prosecute individuals who provide or assist in the procedure. Criminalization of abortion not only hinders individuals’s access to abortion, but also reinforces abortion stigma. WHO recommends countries to fully decriminalize abortion and work towards creating an enabling legal and policy framework around abortion care. Several actions in this path may involve legalizing abortion to recognize it as a right, establishing standards and regulations for upholding quality of care, and strengthening healthcare systems’ capacities to develop efficient and sustainable service delivery pathways.

Beyond rights: Ensuring access to abortion

While the legal and policy frameworks are essential for safeguarding abortion care, it’s equally imperative to create an environment where individuals can exercise this right without undue barriers. To ensure access to abortion, comprehensive measures are required. These include dismantling structural obstacles such as financial constraints, geographic disparities, and inadequate healthcare infrastructure. Affordability is a significant factor ; even in places where abortion is legal, the cost of the procedure and related services can pose insurmountable barriers for marginalized populations like immigrants and refugees. Geographic accessibility is another concern, as individuals in rural or remote areas may struggle to reach abortion providers. Addressing these challenges involves establishing well-equipped healthcare facilities in underserved regions and providing financial support to make abortion services affordable for all.

Furthermore, comprehensive sexual education and destigmatization efforts play pivotal roles in fostering an environment where access to abortion is upheld. When society openly discusses sexual health and abortion, it helps break down the stigmas that hinder individuals from seeking care. Moreover, involving healthcare providers in training programs that emphasize the importance of non-judgmental care is essential. This ensures that medical professionals are equipped to offer support and guidance without imposing personal beliefs. Ultimately, efforts must be made going beyond rights to implement strategies that guarantee accessible, safe, and judgment-free abortion services for everyone, irrespective of their background or circumstances.


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“The battles over women’s bodies can be won only by a revolution of the mind.”

Mona Eltahawy