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How does Irish abortion law compare to rest of EU?

Abortion is only completely banned in Malta of all the 28 states.

Image: EU flags via Shutterstock

THIS WEEK HAS seen the Seanad take its turn in debating and voting on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013.

The legislation is to give effect to terminations in very limited cases where the mother’s life is at “real and substantial” risk.

Opponents of the legislation have argued that it either goes too far or not far enough.

But where does it stand in relation to abortion legislation in the rest of the 28-nation European Union?

AUSTRIA

Available up to three months of a pregnancy; afterwards in cases of serious health concerns for the mother or baby.

BELGIUM

Available up to twelve weeks; afterwards in case of serious health concerns for the mother or baby.

BULGARIA

Available up to twelve weeks; beyond that if the life of the mother is at risk, or for severe foetal malformations.

CROATIA

Available up to ten weeks; thereafter for medical reasons or in case of rape.

THE CZECH REPUBLIC

Available up to twelve weeks; after that in case of serious health concerns for the mother or baby or rape.

DENMARK

Available up to twelve weeks. After that the abortion has to be approved by the authorities who take into account exceptional circumstances, like danger to the mother, rape, incest or risk of birth defects.

ESTONIA

Available up to twelve weeks, and beyond that for medical reasons and/or for women younger than 15 or older than 45.

FINLAND

Available up to twelve weeks. A doctor’s authorisation is necessary but in practice is systematic. Beyond that health and social authorities decide on a case by case basis.

FRANCE

Available up to twelve weeks, and beyond that for medical reasons.

GERMANY

Abortion in Germany is permitted in the first 12 weeks upon condition of mandatory counselling, during which counsellors will try to dissuade the woman. Afterwards in cases of medical necessity, but not in case of rape.

GREECE

Available up to twelve weeks, beyond that for medical reasons, rape or incest.

HUNGARY

Available up to twelve weeks; up to 18 weeks if the patient is younger than 18, beyond that for medical or social reasons.

IRELAND

Abortion is allowed in circumstances where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother or where an expectant mother is a suicide risk.

ITALY

Available up to twelve weeks for social or medical reasons; beyond for medical reasons only.

LATVIA

Available up to twelve weeks (up to 16 in case of rape) and after that for medical reasons.

LITHUANIA

Available up to twelve weeks, and beyond that on doctors’ advice for medical reasons.

LUXEMBOURG

Available up to twelve weeks for social and medical reasons or rape; beyond that for medical reasons.

MALTA

Abortion is completely banned. Women found to be having abortions face from 18 months to three years in prison.

NETHERLANDS

Available up to 24  weeks, and beyond for medical reasons. The abortion must take place in one of the 17 abortion clinics or 92 hospitals authorised by the government.

POLAND

Abortion is allowed in case of rape, incest, danger to the life of the mother or the irreversible malformation of the foetus, in the first 12 weeks.

PORTUGAL

Available up to ten weeks on request, and up to 16 weeks in cases of rape. 24 weeks if the child will be born with severe malformations.

ROMANIA

Available up to twelve weeks, afterwards for medical reasons.

SLOVAKIA

Available up to twelve weeks and beyond that for medical reasons or rape.

SLOVENIA

Available up to ten weeks; thereafter for medical reasons.

SPAIN

Available up to twelve weeks; beyond that for medical reasons.

SWEDEN

Available up to eighteen weeks, and beyond that on the authorisation of the health and social services, usually for medical reasons.

UNITED KINGDOM

Available up to twenty-four weeks, and afterwards for medical reasons. In Northern Ireland, the woman’s health must be at risk.

- © AFP, 2013

Here’s how the Seanad voted on the abortion legislation>
Catch-up: The things you should know about the final Dáil abortion vote>
Explainer: What exactly are Ireland’s politicians voting on?>

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