There is a global trend toward the liberalization of abortion laws driven by women’s rights, public health, and human rights advocates. This trend reflects the recognition of women’s access to legal abortion services as a matter of women’s rights and self-determination and an understanding of the dire public health implications of criminalizing abortion.

Nonetheless, legal strategies to introduce barriers that impede access to legal abortion services, such as mandatory waiting periods, biased counseling requirements, and the unregulated practice of conscientious objection, are emerging in response to this trend. These barriers stigmatize and demean women and compromise their health.

Public health evidence and human rights guarantees provide a compelling rationale for challenging abortion bans and these restrictions.


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Louise Finer, LLM, and Johanna B. Fine, JD, MIAAt the time of the research and writing, Louise Finer and Johanna B. Fine were with the Center for Reproductive Rights, New York, NY. “Abortion Law Around the World: Progress and Pushback”, American Journal of Public Health 103, no. 4 (April 1, 2013): pp. 585-589.

PMID: 23409915