On all continents, repressive legislation criminalising access to abortion remains in force, resulting in serious violations of women’s rights. In many countries, the law imposes an absolute prohibition on abortion. Elsewhere, limited exceptions are permitted, in cases of serious risk to the life or health of the woman, rape, incest or malformation of the foetus. These laws usually contain additional - often costly - procedural restrictions (medical certificate signed by one or several doctors, decision of a court) which prevent women having recourse to abortion in practice, even in the cases allowed by law.
The consequences are violent and sometimes deadly. In addition to regulating women’s bodies, such laws encourage recourse to clandestine and unsafe abortions. For young girls, carrying a pregnancy to term can have disastrous effects on their bodies and their futures. Most of the countries which refuse to recognise the right to abortion also inflict criminal penalties on women who undergo illegal abortions as well as on the medical personnel who practise such abortions. The United Nations has repeatedly called on states to abolish these repressive laws.
FIDH documents violations of the rights of women and girls caused by restrictions to access to abortion, to life, health, education and participation in public life, and advocates for the adoption of reforms which respect women’s rights.