Public funding for abortion services in 80 countries where abortion is broadly legal

by Daniel Grossman, Kate Grindlay, Bridgit BurnsContraception 2016; DOI: research, conducted between mid-2011 and late 2014, found that the vast majority of countries with liberal or liberally interpreted abortion laws provide public funding for abortion services.The researchers, from Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California in San Francisco and Ibis Reproductive Health in the USA, surveyed reproductive health experts from each of the countries and searched for published data on their countries’ policies. The findings reported were generally true of national policies as of 2013-2014, except for two countries with older data.The following number of countries provided public funding for abortion services:– 34 countries provided full funding for abortion (provided for free at government facilities, covered under state-funded health insurance);– 25 countries provided partial funding (partially covered by the government, covered for certain populations based on income or non-income criteria, or less expensive in public facilities);– 10 countries provided funding only for exceptional cases (rape/incest/fetal impairment, health/life of the woman or other limited cases); and– 11 countries provided no public funding.Thus, nearly half of the 80 countries with liberal/liberally interpreted abortion laws had public funding for abortion, including most countries that liberalised their abortion laws in the past 20 years. Outliers remain, however, including among developed countries where access to abortion may be limited due to lack of affordability.Most countries that recently liberalised their abortion law also chose to provide public funding for the procedure. For example, Uruguay and Mexico City legalised abortion in the first trimester in the past decade, and in both cases the service is available free of charge in public hospitals or covered by national insurance. Most countries that did not provide public funding for abortion or provided funding only in exceptional cases did provide public funding for maternity care, however.PHOTO: Our Bodies, Ourselves, May 2016