TW: Abortion, Rape.
Given the shocking and upsetting news coming from the US this week, many women and people who can get pregnant across the country have been asking me about moving abroad to places with better abortion protection rights, and how to access abortions abroad. Below you’ll find the best countries abroad for abortion access, whether you want to move abroad to a country with more rights or travel there in order to get access.
It’s a scary time to be someone who can get pregnant in the US, and hopefully, this can help some of you out.
I’m sorry that we even have to discuss traveling in order to get access to fundamental rights and I understand that some of these options could be out of reach for financial reasons.
I just want to make sure this information is available for anyone that needs it or is thinking about leaving the USA permanently because of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
How to Access Abortion Abroad & In the USA
Although abortion may be prohibited in your state, there are still options abroad and throughout the US. Many experts have suggested buying up abortion and morning-after pills if you live in a trigger state before new laws come in.
It’s also been largely pointed out that it’s difficult to track postal abortion pills from states where abortion is still legal.
This is obviously much more accessible and affordable for a lot of people than traveling overseas, so it is definitely something to consider.
If you’re looking to access abortion abroad, there are organizations and processes in place to help make this a reality.
The United Kingdom has some of the best protection rights in the world and The Netherlands and Spain also have similar practices and liberal cross-country abortion laws.
On the other side of the Atlantic, both Mexico and Canada have said that they’ll accept US abortion patients if they’re living in a banned state. Of course, none of this is free.
I’ll get into each country specifically in the next section.
The financial barrier is going to be massive when accessing abortions in banned states, and while the overturning of Roe is unlikely to stop abortions, it’s definitely going to turn it into something that only richer people can afford to do safely.
That being said, non-profit organizations like Planned Parenthood (you can donate here) are working tirelessly to help fund travel and medical expenses for people who are seeking terminations.
If you’re feeling helpless and angry right now, one of the best things you can do after protesting and ringing your local politician is to donate to one of these organizations.
The Best Countries Abroad for Abortion Access
Most of the messages I have been getting recently are about which countries have the best abortion protection rights. Many of us are scared and done with living in the US, just waiting for more rights to be ripped away from us.
Although most countries in Europe have legal abortions up until 12 weeks, there are a few with long time periods and more liberal abortion laws.
Outside of Europe, there are several countries with more liberal abortion laws that might be a viable option for relocation.
1. The UK
The gestation period: up to 24 weeks for socio-economic reasons, and for medical emergencies past this date.
If you’re under 10 weeks, and you’re having a medical abortion (abortion pills), you can now take the second pill at home, rather than having to be in the clinic or doctor’s office.
If you live in the UK, abortions are covered by the National Health Service (NHS) and are free. There are various services and organisations that will help subsidise your overseas abortion, and it varies from completely free to a couple £100s. This is constantly changing in the wake of Brexit, so keep checking.
The United Kingdom has some of the best protection rights in the world, and BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) has been offering abortion support to women both in the UK and overseas for many years now.
Their site says while they help 80,000 people a year, 4,000 of those come from overseas.
Their helplines and appointments are easy to make from overseas and are 100% completely confidential. They’ll even help you with your accommodation and meals during your procedure.
Up until 2019, Northern Ireland, which is a part of the UK had to travel to England, Scotland, or Wales to have an abortion due to devolved healthcare rules within the country.
After strongly Catholic Ireland legalized abortion in 2018, its Northern neighbor quickly followed suit, bringing it in line with the rest of the UK, which was one of the first countries to legalize abortion. It’s because of legal situations like this that BPAS has existed and worked tirelessly all this time.
How to Get a Visa: If you’d like to move to the UK long-term, this post will guide you through that process. If you have a US passport, you can get a 6-months visa automatically on arrival.
2. The Netherlands
The gestation period: up to 24 weeks, but different rules for medical practitioners apply.
The Netherlands has liberal cross-country abortion laws.
If you’re under 16 days then there’s no waiting period for an appointment. Between 16 days and 24 weeks, there’s a 5-day cooling-off period between the consultation and the procedure.
After 24 weeks, abortion has to be approved by a central committee and can only be performed in a hospital or clinic.
If you’re legally living in the Netherlands, the cost of an abortion will be reimbursed by the AWBZ, which is general insurance. If you’re coming from overseas, you will have to pay. If you’re coming from overseas, you will have to pay approximately between 800 to 1,000 euros.
How to Get a Visa: For long-term visas, you’ll need to research permanent residency. For the short-term, the Netherlands is a part of the Schengen area, so US citizens can stay up to 90 days in a 180-day span.
The gestation period: up to 24 weeks
South America by and large has not been on board with abortion rights, so the landmark shift in Colombia was huge.
Previously, they’d only condoned abortion in cases of rape, if life was at risk, or the pregnancy was unviable.
In a recent study, abortions in Colombia cost between $213 and $189.
How to Get a Visa: You can get an automatic 90-day visa on arrival with UK or US passports. For the long term, you should look into getting a Migrant visa.
The gestation period: 22 weeks
Iceland is known as a liberal country and already had a 16-week abortion law in 2019 when the new law was passed increasing the limit to 22 weeks.
Abortions in Iceland are free if the patient is health-insured under the Health Insurance Act.
How to Get a Visa: Iceland is a part of the Schengen area, so US citizens can stay up to 90 days in a 180-day span.
5. New Zealand
The gestation period: 20 weeks
Although New Zealand only decriminalized abortion in 2020, they did a real 360 when they announced a 20-week allowance on procedures, without any restrictions or caveats.
Abortion care is free for most New Zealand residents. Not a citizen or permanent resident? Your care might still be free as there are some instances and funds that can help.
If your abortion is a result of rape the ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation- a type of insurance) has to pay for it.
Private overseas clinics charge between $1,454.75 to $2163.15 for an abortion.
How to Get a Visa: There is no visa on arrival in New Zealand, you must apply for a visa although the process is quite easy. Americans get 90 days.
The gestation period: up to 18 weeks on request, up to 22 weeks under strong fetal viability reasons.
Second-trimester abortions are subject to approval by the National Board of Health and Welfare. Abortions are largely covered by National Health Insurance, so there’s only a small fee. If you do get charged, it’ll be between 350 – 700 SEK.
How to Get a Visa: Sweden is a part of the Schengen area, so US citizens can stay up to 90 days in a 180-day span.
The gestation period: up to 14 weeks
Although Spain has a lower gestation period than some on this list, they’re a lot more liberal about accepting overseas patients.
If you live in Spain public hospital abortions are free but depend on availability, or you can go private for €300. Private hospitals are probably your best bet as a foreigner.
Spain is even currently drafting an amendment that would allow 16 or 17-year-old girls to decide for themselves around abortion, rather than needing parental consent.
How to Get a Visa: Spain is a part of the Schengen area, so US citizens can stay up to 90 days in a 180-day span. To stay long-term, you can look into the teaching assistant program or the NLV visa.
The gestation period: up to 14 weeks
In France, you have to meet with a doctor for a consultation and then give a written request for an abortion, no earlier than a week after this meeting.
You also have to be in a ‘state of distress’ because of your pregnancy.
It’s been reported that newer doctors are increasingly refusing to perform abortions, so something to keep an eye on if you’re planning on moving.
How to Get a Visa: France is a part of the Schengen area, so US citizens can stay up to 90 days in a 180-day span. You can also apply for a one-year renewable tourist visa for France, this post will guide you through that process.
You can see a full map of legal limits on abortions in different countries as well as individual requirements that are kept up to date by the Center for Reproductive Rights: https://reproductiverights.org/maps/worlds-abortion-laws/
While attitudes towards abortions have largely improved, with 50 countries improving their access to abortion in the last 25, including some seriously religious states, the overturning of Roe v. Wade is a massively worrying blow to abortion rights all around the world.
References for Abortion Access Abroad
Sunday 3rd of July 2022
Incredibly surprised that Canada is not on this list, especially concerning accessibility from an American perspective!!