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Abortion Rights: Latest Decisions and Developments around the World


Abortion Rights: Latest Decisions and Developments around the World

The global landscape of abortion rights continues to evolve in 2024, with new legislation and feminist movements fighting for better access. Let's take a trip around the world to see the latest develo...

Over the past 30 years, more than 60 countries and territories have liberalized their abortion laws. Only four have regressed, including the United States. Abortion rights are increasingly becoming recognized as fundamental human rights for millions of people worldwide. The global landscape of abortion rights continues to evolve in 2024, with new legislation and feminist movements fighting for better access. Let's take a trip around the world to see the latest developments.


On 22 October 2020, Poland’s illegally appointed Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the country’s abortion law is unconstitutional, specifically striking down the possibility for women to access abortion care on the grounds of severe fetal impairment.

In December 2023, Donald Tusk was elected as the new Polish Prime Minister. One of his major campaign promises was to change the abortion law to reestablish access to this fundamental right. “Legalization of abortion was on the manifesto of every party in the coalition, but five months after the election, abortion is still being pushed into the background,” said Dominika Ćwiek from Legal Abortion to the Guardian.

On 13 April, the Polish Parliament decided to send 4 abortion bills to the committee. 3 out of the 4 abortion bills aim to legalize and to decriminalize abortion. This is historic as it is the first time since 1996 that a bill aiming to liberalize legal access to safe abortion was not dropped in the primary vote. It is a promising step that was made possible by the great mobilization of women and young people across the country. In mid-May, there should be a public hearing with experts and possibly women who have had an abortion and, if everything goes according to the provisional plan,  it should be voted on in committee at the end of May and sent to the Plenary for the second reading in June.

Our partner in Poland, the Polish Women’s Strike, released a press statement: “We look forward to the start of solid, concrete, substantive work that takes into account the current reality of abortion - including the work of abortion activists in Poland.

Photo credits: Women’s Strike

Women’s Strike


2024 celebrated a historic victory for the feminist movement: France became the first country to enshrine the freedom to terminate a pregnancy in the Constitution. This was made possible by the incredible work of feminist organizations led by our Member Association, Le Planning familial.

“This is a historic decision, for France, but also for Europe and worldwide. A year and a half after the US Supreme Court's overturning of Roe V. Wade, the French victory is a clear and optimistic message to the international community: abortion is a fundamental freedom.” Dr Alvaro Bermejo, Director-General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

Neighboring countries have been considering following France’s example. Will Spain be next? Indeed, the far left-wing party Sumar led by Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz published on X: "France and its women have shown that progress can and must be made. Today we propose to introduce into the Constitution the right to the free termination of pregnancy. It is time to fully guarantee the rights of all women."

Photo credits: IPPF/Le Planning familial


United Kingdom

Since 2019, 100 British women have been investigated over abortion. 6 were taken to court accused of terminating their pregnancies after the legal limit of 24 weeks, over the past two years. Some of their cases made headlines, such as Carla Foster, who was imprisoned for obtaining an abortion after the time limit during the COVID lockdown. In the UK , the Abortion Act of 1967 decriminalizes abortion only under certain circumstances: if two doctors agree to terminate a pregnancy and if it poses a risk to the woman's physical or mental health. As a result of the court cases, a cross-party group of MPs tabled an amendment to decriminalize abortion in England and Wales after 24 weeks. 

Enshrining abortion as a human right will prevent further attacks on access as well as those who assist women to ensure abortion can be safe, legal and local,” MP Stella Creasy said to the Guardian.

Photo credits: IPPF/Laura Lewis/UK

United Kingdom


Despite being technically illegal since 1871, with rare prosecutions, abortion in Germany exists in a legal gray area. Moreover, abortion was decriminalized up to 12 weeks. To address this paradox, the government formed a commission a year ago to review the existing law. On 8 April, the Commission on Reproductive Self-Determination and Reproductive Medicine published its recommendations: Germany does not comply with international standards, and abortion should be legalized up to 12 weeks as well as decriminalized in the second trimester. Health minister, Karl Lauterbach, shared that these recommendations will be debated in the Parliament. 

Pro Familia, IPPF Member Association in Germany, responded in a statement: “We welcome the fact that the Federal Government's commission is recommending non-criminal regulation of abortion. The coalition of parties set up this commission because the current law has extremely problematic consequences - for the people affected, for the counselors and for the doctors who support them. The experience of an abortion, counseling and medical care are made more difficult as a result, and there is an urgent need for action. The government must therefore draft, consult on and pass the necessary legislative amendments before the end of this legislative period.”.

Photo credits: Shutterstock/AndriiKoval



On 14 and 15 February this year, Maltese activists, along with national and European parliamentarians, protested in Brussels against the country’s strict abortion law, considered the toughest in the EU. In Malta, abortion is punishable by up to three years in prison, leading around 500 women annually to seek abortion pills online. Demonstrators called for legal reforms to grant women autonomy over their bodies and to end their “second-class” status. They urged MEPs for international support to pressure Malta to change its laws. Despite a bill being passed last July aiming to update the law, it was watered down and fell short: abortion is allowed only in cases where the pregnant person’s life is at immediate risk, subject to a lengthy approval process by a three-doctor panel and a mandatory waiting period after the request, endangering lives due to potential delays.  

Read more about this here.   

Photo credits: Guillaume Périgois/Unsplash


The United States

In June 2022, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a historic decision and rollback on women’s reproductive rights. Since then, 14 States have banned safe abortion and abortion rights continue to be attacked: on 9 April, the Arizona Supreme Court adopted a new legal framework banning access to nearly all safe abortion care except if the mother’s life is at risk.

On 26 March, the US Supreme Court was convened to make a decision on the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine et al v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration et al case. This case challenges the approval by the FDA 20 years ago of the safe and effective medical abortion drug mifepristone. The case is the result of organized and politically motivated attacks led by anti-abortion groups on sexual rights and bodily autonomy. 

More than 5 million people have used mifepristone to successfully discontinue their pregnancy. Mifepristone is also used in the medical management of miscarriage and second and third-trimester pregnancies when the fetus has died before birth.For now, the decision has not been published. In the time being, mifepristone is safe and still on the market. 

To support PPFA, join their campaign here.

Photo credits: Gayatri Malhotra/Unsplash

The United States


In 2024, Colombia celebrates two years of decriminalization of abortion. On 21 February 2022, the Constitutional Court of Colombia legalized abortion up to 24 weeks. 

Marta Royo, the Executive Director at Profamilia Colombia reflects on this historic victory of the feminist movement and on the remaining obstacles: “The challenge now is cultural. Yes, there are abortions that occur after the 24th week because when they wanted to terminate their pregnancies in a timely manner, in the first few weeks, they encountered high barriers that are difficult to overcome because they rest on the foundations of selfish and conservative machismo.  Yes, there are minors who have abortions. But we forget that behind every minor who decides to terminate her pregnancy there is an adolescent, a girl victim of sexual violence to whom the system and we, as a society, have failed.

Banner image credit: Profamilia (Facebook)



On 2 April, the Washington Post reported the  disturbing finding: “Abortions are legal in much of Africa. But few women may be aware, and providers don't advertise it”. 

In fact, 55 countries of the Africa Union signed the Maputo Protocol supporting abortion rights in 2003, which states: “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to: protect the reproductive rights of women by authorising medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the foetus.” (Article 14, 2.c). 

In the past two decades, over 20 countries across Africa have expanded access to safe and legal abortion. In October 2021, Benin legalized abortion in most cases: “[when the pregnancy is] likely to aggravate or cause a situation of material, educational, professional or moral distress incompatible with the interests of the woman and/or the unborn child”. 

But many people are still unaware of the law and their rights, as Dr Serge Kitihoun, Director of Programmes at Association Béninoise pour la Promotion de la Famille (ABPF), IPPF Member Association in Benin, explained to the Guardian: “Not everyone knows about this law. It is written in French; not everyone speaks French. We must translate the law into the national languages so everyone can be informed. Those who don’t yet have the information certainly will be resorting to unsafe abortions.”. Unfortunately, this is true in many African countries. 


Access to information is crucial to ensuring access to safe abortion, so translating the law from the official (often colonial) language to local languages is key. Moreover, social media plays an important role in disseminating information. On 27 March, MSI and the Center for Countering Digital Hate published an alarming report: “Digital Disparities: The Global Battle for Reproductive Rights on Social Media”. In their press statement, they share their groundbreaking findings: 

  • Meta and Google restrict local abortion providers from advertising, while several platforms fail to tackle rampant abuse and misinformation that undermine public access to reproductive healthcare
  • Meta profits from anti-abortion advertising placed by US-based activists with the aim of deterring people from seeking abortions overseas

This massive disinformation strongly impacts women’s right to access safe abortion care. Google and Meta need to take responsibility and action. 


The anti choice and anti rights groups in the region have been scaring off health professionals who provide abortion care. As a result, doctors and midwives prefer to not advertise their abortion care services. As Mallah Tabot, Architect of Cooperation at IPPF Africa Regional Office explains: “In sub-Saharan Africa, anti-rights governments, civil society organizations and opposition groups have intensified their efforts to challenge regional instruments like the Maputo Protocol, which was established in 2005 to guarantee extensive rights to African women and girls. Uganda’s recent enactment of its Anti-Homosexuality Act is a particularly stark example of this regression. In this climate, debates surrounding contraception, abortion, comprehensive sex education, gender, sexuality, and the role of the state have become increasingly contentious.” She adds: “These challenges demand collaboration, innovation, and unwavering dedication. By uniting in our efforts, we can protect and expand access to comprehensive abortion care, advocate for sexual and reproductive rights, and pave the way for a future where reproductive justice is a reality for all individuals across Africa, the US and beyond.”. 

Photo credits: IPPF/Xaume Olleros/Benin

Workshop on abortion stigma in Benin


Colombia is not the only country celebrating a two-year anniversary. In 2022, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that all women - regardless of their marital status - have a right to access safe and legal abortion. In the order they issued following the decision, it stated: “The law in modern times is shedding the notion that marriage is a precondition to the rights of individuals and that changing social mores must be borne in mind when interpreting a law. As society changes and evolves, so must our mores and conventions. A changed social context demands a readjustment of our laws.”. 

We celebrate the Supreme Court of India’s ruling, which rightly underlines the bodily autonomy of all women to make decisions about their bodies without any prejudice or pressure. It upholds the right to access quality abortion services to unmarried women and survivors of marital rape. The ruling paves the way for strengthening the current abortion care guideline in the country to include the scope for abortion self-care which centers around autonomy, privacy, and confidentiality. Health service providers like us must dauntlessly work together to leverage this landmark judgment and ensure that no woman in India dies due to unsafe abortions,” reacted the IPPF South Asia Regional Office in 2022.

Photo credits: IPPF/Disha Arora/2022


Arab World

The Maputo Protocol also applies to North African countries. However, very few  have signed and ratified the treaty. Ratification numbers have increased recently, with Tunisia ratifying in 2018 and Algeria in 2016. Some countries in the Arab world have not yet signed it, notably Egypt and Morocco. 

The criminalization of abortion rights in the region is still a legacy of colonial control. Punitive abortion laws were enforced in the region as a result of French and British pronatalist policies, which were designed to increase population numbers. Women's access to legal and medical abortion services are still limited by these colonial-era restrictions. In most countries of the region, safe and legal abortion is accessible only when the life of the woman is at risk.

A critical gap exists: the impact of abortion bans on women's health in the Africa region remains understudied. In countries where abortion is criminalized, collecting data is nearly impossible.

However, feminist organizations are working in the region to change the mentality on abortion. RAWSA (Regional Advocacy for Women’s Sustainable Advancement, formerly known as Right & Access for Women to Safe Abortion Network) Alliance for Africa & Arab States is a network working to ensure accessibility to safe abortion. On International Women’s Day, RAWSA published Why Safe Abortion Is An Obligation and concludes: “Organizations and networks as RAWSA, have to continue their advocacy and communication efforts to achieve the aspirations related to access safe abortion in MENA region and possibly to legalizing abortion or better to decriminalize it . The continuity to network, advocate and lobby is essential to create a leverage, build capacity among advocates (individuals and groups) and pressurize the governments in the region to be able to provide this human right to all women in the MENA region”.

Photo credits: IPPF/Record Media/Yemen

Arab World


Tunisia is celebrating the 51st anniversary of the legalization of abortion. The North African country has played a pioneering role in advocating for sexual rights. It was the first Arabic and Muslim country to legalize the right to abortion.

In recent years, however, Tunisia has faced a shortage of abortion pills. Some women are forced to turn to illegal markets to buy the pills. Moreover, despite the law, more and more health professionals are illegally denying women access to safe abortion.  Already in 2013, according to the study "Denial of Abortion in Legal Settings," Selma Hajri estimated that a quarter of women seeking safe and legal abortion in Tunisia were denied their rights. As a result, women who can afford it have gone to private clinics to get safe abortions and avoid being judged.

In addition, medical centers face a shortage of personnel. In Tunis, there are 8 obstetrician-gynecologists per 10,000 women. In Tatouine, there is less than one doctor for every 10,000 women.

To support the IPPF Tunisian Member Association, Association Tunisienne de la Santé de la Reproduction, follow them on social media here.


Photo credits: ATSR

Association Tunisienne de la Santé de la Reproduction



France, Germany, Poland, United Kingdom, United States, Colombia, India, Tunisia


European Network, Africa, East and South East Asia and Oceania, South Asia, Arab World, Americas & the Caribbean


Abortion Care

Related Member Association

Mouvement Français pour le Planning Familial, Pro Familia - Germany , Family Planning Association of India, Asociación Pro-Bienestar de la Familia Colombiana, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Association Tunisienne de la Santé de la Reproduction

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