- The Washington Times - Monday, January 31, 2022

The United States, China and North Korea are among only six countries that allow abortion on demand throughout the entirety of pregnancy, according to research comparing America to the rest of the world.

Canada, Vietnam and South Korea are the other three outliers, according to a study released last week by the Family Research Council, an evangelical Christian advocacy group.

Overall, 69 nations permit elective abortion and 58 of those countries restrict it after 14 weeks of gestation, just after the first trimester, the study found.

“American laws on abortion are more aligned with those of human rights violators like North Korea and China than with countries who protect the dignity of every human being,” said Mary Szoch, the study’s lead author and director of the group’s Center for Human Dignity. “Americans must work to change our laws so that they are consistent with a nation that believes all people have the right to life instead of nations who put their own people in concentration camps.”

The study found that 99 of the nearly 200 nations surveyed ban abortion from the moment of conception or allow abortion only in the case of rape, incest or to protect the mother’s life.

“When surveying the world’s abortion laws, one thing is clear, the vast majority of nations have laws protecting unborn life in the womb,” the study says.

The research found that most European countries, including Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland, as well as Russia and Australia, restrict abortion after 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Many African countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and Morocco, and South American countries such as Peru, Paraguay and Venezuela, outlaw abortion except when the mother’s life is at risk, and 26 nations ban elective abortion without exception.

Some countries allow exceptions for fetal abnormalities, mental disorders and socioeconomic limitations.

Connor Semelsberger, the Family Research Council‘s director of federal affairs for life and human dignity, wrote the study with analyst Joy Zavalick. He said the results undermine the assumption that unrestricted abortion is widely accepted and practiced.

“While the abortion industry may give the perception that the U.S.’s radical abortion laws are the norm around the world, that is the furthest thing from the truth,” Mr. Semelsberger said.

The Supreme Court is considering Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks in a case that could overturn the court’s 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized the practice nationwide. During December’s oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. noted that the U.S. is an international outlier with regard to abortion on demand.

Meanwhile, recent surveys conducted by polling organizations such as Gallup, Marist and the Pew Research Center have found that the majority of Americans support some form of abortion, if not on demand.

However, the Family Research Council study cites an AP-NORC poll, released in June, that found 65% of Americans say abortion should “almost always” be illegal in the second trimester and 80% say the same of the third trimester.

“These numbers mean that 80 percent of Americans oppose the legal standards for abortion in their own country,” the study states. “The extremity of U.S. abortion jurisprudence is not only out of step with most of the world, but it also conflicts with the opinions of most U.S. citizens.”

“The report confirms what we have been saying for years: The U.S. is extreme on its lenient abortion policies and out of touch with mainstream opinion at home and abroad,” said Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America. “The Democratic Party’s views on abortion match those of North Korea and China and are not only costing the party votes but millions of lost lives.”

The study found that 26 of 41 nations in Asia and the Middle East ban elective abortion without exception and allow abortion only under special circumstances. That makes China, North Korea, South Korea and Vietnam outliers in the region.

From 1980 to 2015, China implemented a national policy that allowed only one child per family and forced violators to have abortions.

Today, China struggles with a baby bust. The Chinese National Bureau of Statistics reported this month that only 10.62 million babies, or 7.5 births per 1,000 people, were born last year. That was down from 12.02 million in 2020, the fifth straight year of decline and the lowest number since the Communist Party took over in 1949.

The U.S. Census Bureau, which has not released data for 2021, reports that the U.S. birthrate declined steadily from 2008 to 2020 and has been well below “replacement-level fertility” since 2007. The U.S. birthrate in 2020 hit a historic low of 10.8 births per 1,000 people.

Sources for the Family Research Council study included the latest data compiled by the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, the World Health Organization’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Risa Kaufman, director of U.S. human rights at the pro-choice Center for Reproductive Rights, called the study “faulty” because it “fails to analyze the full legal and social systems in which abortion laws operate.”

“A proper analysis shows that many countries with gestational limits, including countries in Western Europe, simultaneously allow for broad exceptions, including for economic or social circumstances and physical or mental health, thus allowing for abortion later in pregnancy,” Ms. Kaufman said, adding that this is true in 37 nations in the Council of Europe.

By contrast, she said it’s inaccurate to suggest that abortion remains legal in the U.S. at every stage of pregnancy when the Supreme Court has allowed Texas to ban most abortions pending further court challenges.

“For five months now, most Texans have been without abortion access as a result of Texas’ unconstitutional abortion ban, forcing people to drive hundreds of miles to other states,” Ms. Kaufman said. “People without the means to travel are being forced to carry pregnancies against their will.”

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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