Washington, D.C. – A comprehensive analysis of abortion laws in Europe released Tuesday found almost every country limits elective abortion to 15 weeks gestation, putting the policy in place on much of the continent in line with new restrictions adopted by the State of Mississippi.
“The European comparison is useful in highlighting how Roe v. Wade and the abortion industry are outdated and out of touch, but our goal isn’t achieving some international happy medium,” said Chuck Donovan, the president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute. The aim, he said, was to use science “to demonstrate the reality that human life exists in the womb and that the right to life is an inalienable human right
The Mississippi law, enacted in 2018, was immediately challenged by pro-abortion rights supporters as an unreasonable incumbrance on the reproductive rights of women as established by the United States Supreme Court. Current precedent allows for elective abortions to occur through the ninth month of pregnancy, subject to the ability of individual states to impose restrictions on abortion after the viability of the unborn child has been determined.
As a matter of law, viability is currently held as occurring at approximately 24 weeks gestation though many doctors and scientists say it can and does happen much earlier. That standard will be tested when the Mississippi law comes before the high court this fall in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which abortion opponents hope will result in the benchmark being cut by as much as half.
The Lozier Institute report found by comparing abortion restrictions in 47 of 50 European countries that 39 placed limits of elective abortions at 15 weeks gestation or earlier. The other eight prohibit it altogether.
“Mississippi’s law brings the United States a small step closer both to European and global norms,” said Lozier Institute associate scholar Angelina B. Nguyen, J.D., the study’s author. “No European nation allows elective abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, as is effectively permitted in several U.S. states, and America is one of only a small handful of nations, along with China and North Korea, to permit any sort of late-term elective abortion.”
The latest analysis builds on a previous Lozier Institute study regarding abortion laws worldwide released in 2014. It found the United States to be among a handful of countries, including North Korea and China – notorious for its policy limiting the number of children a couple may have – that allowed elective abortions for any reason more than halfway through a complete pregnancy or after 20 weeks.
Lozier Institute President Chuck Donovan said, “American elites often hold up Europe as an example. First, we demonstrated that more than two-thirds of the planet goes further than America in protecting life. Now, we’ve demonstrated that almost every European nation goes further than America in protecting life. Mississippi’s commonsense limits on late-term abortion are well within the mainstream of American popular opinion and clearly within the mainstream of European political opinion.”
Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, which passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support in 2018, limits elective abortion to 15 weeks. The law was invalidated by lower courts (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization) and will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in the fall of 2021.
Peter Roff can be reached at RoffColumns AT GMAIL.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff.