International Norm: Vast Majority of Countries Limit Abortion after 20 Weeks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 25, 2014
Mallory Quigley, 202-223-8073

U.S. & Canada Outside Mainstream in Permitting Late-Term Abortion  

Washington, D.C. – A new report authored by Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) associate scholar Angelina Baglini and co-released today by CLI and Life Canada finds that the United States and Canada are two of only seven in the world to permit elective abortion beyond 20 weeks.  The two nations join China, North Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, and Netherlands in allowing abortion beyond 20 weeks, more than halfway through pregnancy and the point at which research shows the unborn child feels pain.

“Our fresh review of international statutes and case law was undertaken with the knowledge that U.S. policies, set by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton in 1973, are among the world’s most permissive,” said Chuck Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, which commissioned the report.  “Our goal was to establish what a 20-week-limit would mean in the global context, and the news is that our nation and our northern neighbor, Canada, would still be among the top 4% in permissive law and practice if we adopted such a limit.  Laws restricting abortion on demand after 20 weeks would move the bulk of North America away from the fringe and closer to the international mainstream.”  

“There is a clear need to put into place laws that protect human life, and the dignity of life, in a nation where no such laws exist,” said Natalie Sonnen, Executive Director of LifeCanada.  “The definition of human life in the Canadian Criminal code, which states that a child becomes a human being when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother, is just one example of how Canada completely ignores pre-natal human life, and runs contrary to science, logic and international humanitarian standards. This study demonstrates how radical the US and particularly Canada are in regards to international norms for abortion.”

Last year national polling by Quinnipiac, National Journal, Huffington Post, NBC/Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post/ABC News all found that a plurality or majority of Americans support limiting abortion after 20 weeks gestation and that women support the measure in higher proportions than men.

The Charlotte Lozier Institute was launched in 2011 as the education and research arm of Susan B. Anthony List.  The CLI is a hub for research and public policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States and nations around the world.  LifeCanada/VieCanada is a national, not-for-profit organization working to ensure respect and dignity for all Canadians.

The Charlotte Lozier Institute is named for a feminist physician known for her commitment to the sanctity of human life and equal career and educational opportunities for women.  She was an associate of Susan B. Anthony and her capsule biography can be found at