How the pandemic changed abortion access in Europe
Updated: Jun 14, 2021
Abortion access has never been equal in Europe. The right to terminate an unwanted or unviable pregnancy varies from Malta, where the procedure is illegal in all circumstances, to the Netherlands, which has some of the most liberal laws on the continent.
The arrival of the pandemic has only accentuated these differences. Faced with lockdowns, border closures and strained health services, the process of accessing proper care became even more complicated for people seeking abortions in 2020. How governments responded to this situation says a lot about their pre-existing stance on reproductive rights.
Our research reviewed changes in policies and protocols relating to abortion access in the EU and the UK. We identified that countries differed based on the extent of policy changes, and the extent of the difficulty in accessing abortion during the pandemic. While some governments were willing to act swiftly to make positive policy changes, others used the crisis as grounds to further restrict access to abortion.