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Europe is less liberal on abortion than you’d think

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

American progressives would have you believe that Western Europe, which they tend to argue is far more enlightened than the United States, is a pro-choice haven where abortion is available on demand at any time during a woman’s pregnancy, no questions asked. But a video by Dennis Prager’s Prager University illustrates how removed from reality such claims are.

The video states that, throughout much of Europe, including Germany, France, and Belgium, abortion is banned well before the point of fetal viability except in extreme cases of medical danger to the mother. In Germany, for example, most abortions are banned after 12 weeks of pregnancy. There is also a mandatory 3-day waiting period before a woman can obtain an abortion, and women who want to obtain abortions are required to undergo counseling. As the video points out, those rules are more restrictive than the limits that the state of Texas places on abortions.

It is worth noting that, in contrast to European abortion policies, abortion is allowed up to 20 weeks in every state in the Union. What’s more, a whopping seven states and the District of Columbia place no restrictions on abortion, and permit the controversial procedure known as partial-birth abortion.

Even in Scandanavia, which is viewed by many on the left as the most enlightened region of the world, many restrictions on abortion exist that would infuriate American progressives. In both Finland and Denmark, abortions are generally permitted only until the twelfth week of pregnancy. In Finland, all women who obtain abortions, even within that twelve-week window, must provide a compelling reason for seeking out the procedure. In Sweden, abortions are banned after the 22nd week of pregnancy, and women who are more than 18 weeks along must have the procedure approved by the National Board of Health. Thus, contrary to what many on the left believe, Western Europe has more conservative policies on abortion than the United States.

Unlike many on the right, I am not completely pro-life. My ideal abortion policy would actually look something like Germany’s, in that it would permit women to obtain abortions for a brief but reasonable window of time before their pregnancies became viable. However, I would also support waiting periods, mandatory counseling, and informational sessions that would educate women about possibilities aside from abortion, such as adoption. I feel that this is a good compromise given that many women will still obtain abortions even if the procedure is illegal, but will do so in dangerous ways. Allowing early-term abortion like Germany does allows women who are truly unprepared to go through with a pregnancy to terminate those pregnancies, but prevents women from aborting viable children in all but the most medically extreme of cases, in which a woman could not survive carrying a pregnancy to term or giving birth.

The abortion policies that have been implemented in most of Western Europe strike a balance between preserving the liberties of mothers with protecting the lives of unborn children, unlike the U.S. So, as it turns out, progressives are right about one thing: we should emulate some European policies. Unfortunately for them, it would be the policies that they would not like.

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