A twelve-week gestational time limit would bring Britain in line with the majority of countries in the European Union where the median time limit for abortion on demand or on broad social grounds is 12 weeks’ gestation.
The BBC previously put together details on European time limits in this resource here. We have recently reviewed the time limits across the European Union, which are presented below.
|Country name||Time limit for abortion on demand or on broad social grounds||References|
|Austria||“First three months”||Penal Code, Section 97 (1974) (German)|
|Belgium||12||Penal Code Chapter 2 Article 2 (French).|
|Bulgaria||12||Decree No. 2 on the conditions and procedures for the artificial termination of pregnancy (1990).|
|Croatia||10||Law No. 1252-1978 , Article 15 (1978).|
|Cyprus||12||Criminal Code of Cyprus (Sections 167-169 and 169A) as amended by Law No 59 (1974) and Law No 186 (1986) (no retrievable and entirely up-to-date version online).|
|Czech Republic||12||Law 66, Section 2(1) (1986).|
|Denmark (Mainland)||12||Law No. 350, Chapter 1, Section 1 (1973).|
|Estonia||11||Abortion and Sterilization Act, Chapter 2, Section 6 (1998)|
|Finland||12||Law 239, Section 5 (1970).|
|France||14||Code de la Santé Publique (Public Health Code) Article L2212 (2022)-1).|
|Germany||12||Strafgesetzbuch (German Criminal Code), Sections 218-218a (1992).|
|Greece||12||The Greek Criminal Code, Article 304 (No direct online access) (1986).|
|Hungary||12||Act LXXIX on the protection of fetal life, Section 6 (1992)|
|Ireland||12||Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018, Section 12 (2018).|
|Italy||12||Law 194, Article 6 (1978).|
|Latvia||12||Sexual and Reproductive Health Law, Chapter VI, Section 25 (1) (2002).|
|Lithuania||12||Order No. 50, Section 1.1 (1994).|
|Luxembourg||12||Law of December 17, 2014 amending 1) the Penal Code and 2) the law of November 15, 1978, Article 12 (2014).|
|Malta||None: abortion is entirely prohibited.||Criminal Code, Articles 241-243.
According to the Maltese Government: “Should the mother’s life be in danger, all efforts are made to save both lives, and the double effect principle applies, such as in ectopic pregnancy.”
|Netherlands||24 (22 in practice)||Criminal Code, Articles 82a and 296).
According to the Government of the Netherlands, “An abortion may be performed up to the time when the foetus is viable outside the mother’s body. Under the Criminal Code, this is 24 weeks. In practice, doctors apply a two-week margin of error, and stick to a time limit of 22 weeks.”
|Poland||Abortion not available on demand or on broad social grounds. It is only available on narrow grounds, when pregnancy poses a threat to the life or health of the woman or in cases of rape or incest||Act on Family Planning, Protection of the Human Fetus, and Conditions for Pregnancy Termination (1993) and Judgement of the Constitutional Court of October 22, 2020 reference number act K 1/20(2020)).|
|Código Penal (Criminal Code), Articles 140-142 (2007) (Portuguese with English translation available).|
|Romania||14||Noul Cod Penal (The New Penal Code), Article 201 (2014) (Romanian with English translation available).|
|Slovakia||12||Act No. 73/1986 Coll. on Artificial Interruption of Pregnancy, as amended by Act No. 419/1991 Coll., Section 4 (1993).|
|Slovenia||10||Law No. 1252-1978, Article 15 (1978). Note: This is the same abortion law as exists in Croatia since both were part of Yugoslavia when the law was passed in 1978|
|Spain||14||Organic Law 2/2010 on Sexual and Reproductive Health and the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy, Article 14 (2010) (Spanish with English translation).|
|Sweden||18||Lag om abort (Abortlagen), Section 1 (Abortion Law) (1974) (Swedish with English translation).|