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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 9. 1963.

Abortion Around the World

Abortion Around the World

The Ussr legalised abortion in 1920, and this law remained in force until 1936, when it was repealed. In 1955 the law was again altered, to make abortion legally available to every woman who wanted it.

Abortion is permissible up to the twelfth week of pregnancy if the woman applies for it. Thereafter it is permissible only on medical grounds, such as danger to the mother's health.

In Japan, abortion as a means of birth control has been legal since 1948. It was legalised because it was thought to be the most promising method of limiting the population.

In Sweden, Norway and Denmark, abortion is available on far more liberal grounds than in New Zealand, though it is not necessarily available to any woman who asks for it. In each of these countries application must be made to a medical board who consider each case individually. There is little chance of complete privacy.

The experience of Scandinavian countries has shown that extension of the grounds for legal abortion does not necessarily abolish the illegal practices. In Japan, there are thought to be almost as many abortions performed illegally (1,000,000) as legally (1,100,000 This is possibly due to a desire on the part of doctors to avoid taxation, and a desire on the part of the patients to avoid paying a mortician's fee.

In America, it is estimated that between 200,000 and 1,200,000 pregnancies are illegally terminated each year. This represents a substantial proportion of the total number of live births. (1,000,000 would be about 1 in 5.)

The estimates by the Kinsey Research Institute show that while more premarital pregnancies than intra marital ones are terminated illegal, there are still a substantial proportion of women who have an abortion at some stage of their married life.