Most European countries allow abortion on request in the first 12-14 weeks of pregnancy – although not without any regulatory, practical or medically unnecessary obstacles. Access to second and especially third trimester abortions, however, can be very limited and hemmed in with conditions, restrictions and requiring third party approval (doctors, parents), even though later abortions are so few and needed in the most desperate of situations.
In several countries, abortion is still in the penal code, which permits legal systems to prosecute individuals for having abortions and adds to stigma and discrimination.
Moreover, there are still countries where most or all abortions are illegal, including Malta, Andorra and Poland, and where women who seek abortions outside the law – especially the growing numbers using medical abortion pills but not under a clinician’s control. Women having abortions, and advocates for abortion rights are being prosecuted too, most egregiously in Poland, but also in Andorra, Malta and England.