Five countries in Europe with the strictest abortion laws

Protestors outside Alabama State House dressed as characters from 'The Handmaid's Tale'. (PA)

Alabama has just passed the most restrictive abortion bill in the US.

It includes a clause which means doctors could be jailed for 99 years for performing an abortion.

The only exceptions allowed are to avoid a “serious health risk” to the unborn child's mother - such as for ectopic pregnancies - and if the unborn child has a condition that means it would be unlikely to survive childbirth.

This means, Alabama has ruled women who become pregnant by rape or incest are still banned from having terminations.

The ruling has caused widespread backlash in the US and beyond, with many pointing out that the legislators who voted for the bill were all male.

Marjorie Newman-Williams, President of Marie Stopes International US, an organisation providing contraception and safe abortion services, said: “The Alabama abortion ban is cruel and unconstitutional.

“We hope that it will be blocked by the courts, and we’re deeply alarmed to see states attempt to punish women for making choices about their own bodies, lives and futures.”

However, some campaigners have said British people outraged by the legislation should look closer to home, pointing out that abortion is still illegal.

It is only permitted when there is a risk to the life of the mother, or a serious risk to her physical or mental health.

Mara Clarke from the London-based Abortion Support Network, said: “We have had a scenario for decades upon decades in which women face the full weight of the law and years of imprisonment if they were to have an abortion in Northern Ireland.

“What is going on in Alabama should remind everyone here in the UK as to what is also going on in one part of this state, where women are criminalised and where women are forced to leave home to have abortions in England.”

In Europe there are still a few countries where there are strict laws governing abortion.

Northern Ireland

Pro-choice campaigners say Northern Irish anti-abortion laws are actually stricter than the legislation introduced in Alabama.

At least one woman faces prosecution for procuring abortion pills on the internet for her then 14-year-old daughter who became pregnant through rape.


In Andorra, abortion is banned except in cases where it is necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman.

A person who performs an abortion with the consent of a pregnant woman is subject to imprisonment up to four years; if she or he is a medical practitioner and aborted the child for financial profit, the maximum penalty is six years in prison.


Abortion in Liechtenstein is illegal in almost all circumstances and is punishable by prison terms for the woman and the physician.

An attempt to legalise it in 2011 was defeated by voters.


Malta is the only country in the European Union to prohibit abortion entirely.

However, abortions are de facto allowed to save the mother's life.

San Marino

The law in San Marino imposes prison sentences for any woman who procures an abortion, any person who helps her and any person who performs the abortion.

Abortions performed to save the life of the mother are generally permitted by legal principles of necessity, but the law makes no specific exceptions.

The other 23 countries that ban abortions around the world are: Angola, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Mauritania, São Tomé & Príncipe, Senegal, Iraq, Laos, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, Philippines, Tonga, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Suriname.