The law in a nutshell
Before deciding to have an abortion, it’s important to be aware of what’s legal and what’s not – when it comes to abortion, there are huge legal variations from country to country.
When abortion is legal, that doesn’t mean you can decide to have one at a late stage of the pregnancy. The limit varies, so in some countries you can have an abortion until you’re 28 weeks pregnant. In others the limit can be as low as 12 weeks.
In some countries the law only lets you have an abortion in certain circumstances, for example if you have physical or mental health problems, you’ve been raped, you can’t afford to look after the baby properly, or there’s something wrong with the foetus.
India is one of the earlier countries to have a law on abortion, as early as 1971. The law upholds the right of every woman to access safe and affordable abortion services in any government hospital, clinic or approved facility. While the law does not permit an abortion simply because the woman doesn’t want to have the baby, but abortion is legal if:
- It will help the woman’s physical or mental health
- For economic or social reasons
- If the pregnancy is a cause of contraception failure
- To save the woman’s life
- If there’s a problem with the foetus
- In cases of rape, incest.
In any case, it must be done during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, and after the 12th week you need the opinion of a second doctor except in an emergency.
The abortion must be performed by a registered doctor in a government hospital or other approved facility. The pregnant woman must give permission for an abortion, and also requires the consent of her parents if she’s still a minor.
You can check where the law stands on abortion where you live here.
If you're in India (where abortion is legal), you can contact Love Matters' partner FPA India for advice, information and safe abortion.
You can also visit Women Help Women's website to access resources and information on safe abortion.