PARIS: Ireland will hold a referendum next year on whether to repeal its constitutional ban on abortion in almost all cases.
In 2013 the country adopted a controversial law that approved abortion for the first time in limited cases where the mother’s life is at risk.
While many countries have similar allowances, 18 ban abortion regardless of the circumstances.
Here is a snapshot of the global situation, based on World Health Organization (WHO) data.
Predominantly Catholic Malta is the only country within the European Union to maintain a total ban; others in Europe, but not in the EU, with bans are Andorra, the Holy See (Vatican) and San Marino.
Other countries with total bans are Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Madagascar, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Palau, Philippines, Senegal and Suriname.
Many other countries reserve abortions for cases where the mother’s life is deemed to be in danger.
A partial list includes: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Ireland, India, Ivory Coast, Lebanon, Myanmar, Oman, Paraguay, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Uganda, Venezuela, West Bank/Gaza and Yemen.
Chile was the latest country to join this group when on September 14 President Michelle Bachelet signed into law legislation to decriminalize abortion in certain cases, ending a strict ban in effect for decades.
The law will allow abortion in cases of rape, threat to the mother’s life or deadly birth defects.
In Europe, Cyprus and Poland have strict laws which only allow termination when there is a danger to the mother or baby and in cases where the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.
Unlike in the rest of the United Kingdom, abortion is also illegal in the province of Northern Ireland except where the mother’s life or mental health is in danger.
Indian law does not allow medical terminations after 20 weeks unless there is a threat to the mother’s life.
A look at a world map produced by the Center for Reproductive Rights (http://worldabortionlaws.com) shows that abortion has been accepted in most parts of North America, Europe and northern Asia. Australia, Cambodia, Guyana, Mozambique, South Africa, Uruguay and Vietnam are in the same category.