I wasn’t expecting ever to write that headline, but I find it to be true. Here are a few examples.
Germany: In Germany, abortion’s legality and the ability to obtain it depends largely on how far along into the pregnancy the woman seeking an abortion is. The abortion rate is 6.1 abortions per 1000 women.
During the First Trimester: It is on demand, but requires proof of counseling from a recognized healthcare provider and a three day waiting period. Where a woman is pregnant as a result of rape termination must take place within 12 weeks of conception but there is no obligation to attend counselling. An independent doctor must verify that there are medical or criminal grounds for an abortion and provide a medical certificate (ein ärztliches Attest) stating this. This doctor may not perform the abortion.
Second and Third Trimester: Abortion may be carried out after the 12th week of pregnancy only where the life of the pregnant woman is in danger, or her physical or mental health is threatened by the pregnancy (it must be proved that the danger to the woman can only be averted by a termination), or where there is known or anticipated damage to the unborn child, due to chromosomal disorders or similar.
Commentary: Mind you, I don’t think most Red State readers would find this scenario to be an ideal end point; however, abortion after the first trimester sound very difficult to obtain. The scariest part of German abortion laws, I think, is being able to abort based on “chromosomal disorders.” I imagine Germany has a high abortion rate for children diagnosed with Down Syndrome, which is tragic.
The United Kingdom: The UK is governed by the Abortion Act of 1967. It reads:
Subject to the provisions of this section, a person shall not be guilty of an offence under the law relating to abortion when a pregnancy is terminated by a registered medical practitioner if two registered medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith –
(a) that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week and that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family; or
(b) that the termination of the pregnancy is necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman; or
(c) that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated
(d) that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.
The abortion rate in the UK was 15.9 per 1000 women in 2013.
Commentary: The UK has one of the more liberal abortion laws in Europe. That said, the United States still has several states where late term abortions are allowed. According to one article, 24 states currently allow late term abortions. So, even the UK, as liberal as its abortion policies are, still holds more restrictive policies than several US states.
France: In France, abortion is available on demand until 12 weeks. Abortions at later stages of pregnancy are allowed if two physicians certify that the abortion will be done to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman; a risk to the life of the pregnant woman; or that the child will suffer from a particularly severe illness recognized as incurable. In 2009, the abortion rate in France was 17.4 abortions per 1000 women.
Commentary: Like Germany, France restricts abortion quite severely after the first trimester. Like Germany, it has potentially scary rules about “severe illness.” Like Germany, however, it’s still harder to get an abortion outside the first trimester in France than it is in the United States.
Italy: In Italy, abortion is legal on demand during the first trimester. During the second trimester, abortion is only allowed when the life of the woman would be at risk if the pregnancy is carried to term or the fetus carries genetic or other serious malformations which would put the mother at risk of serious psychological or physical consequences. The abortion rate in 2010 was 10.0 per 1000 women.
Commentary: Like most European states I’ve described so far, Italy allows abortion on demand in the first trimester, but severely restricts it after the first trimester.
The United States: Abortion laws vary widely by state. There are charts out there which describe them, but several states allow third trimester abortions without restriction. The abortion rate in the United States is 20 per 1000 women.
Commentary: Rand Paul was exactly right to throw the questions concerning abortion back in the face of Hillary Clinton and Democrats who accuse Republicans of being extremists on abortion. I don’t have an exhaustive list, but several European countries severely restrict abortions outside of the first trimester, and the ones I’ve listed all have significantly lower abortion rates than the United States. We can and should move this football down the field, folks, and work to get abortions restricted everywhere outside of the first trimester. After that, we can work on winning the harder arguments about first trimester abortions. Banning second and third trimester abortions is not extreme; allowing them is extreme. You’ve seen the face of the enemy here, folks, and it is us as a nation.