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What are the abortion time limits in EU countries?

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).

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