The Vatican recently released a staunchly pro-life document, Dignitas Infinita (“Infinite Dignity”), that identifies various threats to human dignity such as abortion, euthanasia, and surrogacy.  

Nonetheless, various nations continue moving in the opposite direction on core life issues. This week, “EWTN Pro-Life Weekly” surveyed the state of abortion policy and related family life issues across several continents. 

Europe elevates support for abortion 

In March, France became the first nation in the world to specifically enshrine abortion as part of the country’s constitution with an abortion amendment passing by a 780-72 vote conducted in the Palace of Versailles.

In April, the European Union (EU) Parliament passed a nonbinding resolution to add abortion and include abortion in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The resolution criticized the doctor’s rights of conscience and specifically called out Poland and Malta for their pro-life laws.

The EU is not the only international body that supports and pushes abortion on a global scale.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee called on the U.S. government to bring its laws in line with the World Health Organization’s 2022 Abortion Care Guidelines, calling the laws human rights violations. These guidelines call for abortion to be available on request with no limits on gestation, without any waiting periods, and without recommendations or parental consent.

The U.N. and World Health Organization, among other organizations, recently launched the Human Reproductive Program, part of which features videos promoting abortion and guiding health care workers around the world to walk clients through the abortion process.

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Asia and the Middle East

Abortion is broadly legal in the two of the most populous countries in the world: China and India. Legalized in 1953, China has one of the highest rates of abortion in the world, at 49 abortions for every 1,000 reproductive-aged women, according to the Guttmacher Institute, supported by the nation’s family planning program.

But India has another issue impacting abortion: sex-selective abortion, or aborting a child because she is a girl. According to a 2022 Pew survey, 40% of Indians say sex-selective abortion is acceptable. 

In the interview with EWTN News President and COO Montse Alvarado on “EWTN Pro-Life Weekly,” Rebecca Shah, co-director of the University of Dallas’ program for Indo-American Friendship and Understanding, explained the broad legality of the practice and the alarmingly accepted custom of sex-selective abortion.

In spite of India’s large population — 1.4 billion people — population decline is a “serious issue,” Shah noted. 

“For the first time in India, the total fertility rate has dipped below replacement level of 2.1. We are now at 2,” she noted. “India’s population is slowly declining.”

India enacted the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act in 1971 and has many criteria allowing women to obtain abortions. 

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Though many nations have increasingly permissive abortion laws, such as Japan, where abortion was decriminalized in 1948, some countries, such as Singapore, are starting to promote family. Singapore officially decriminalized abortion in 1974 and widely accepts abortion, but currently has a strong pro-family government. 

EWTN News Vice President and Editorial Director Matthew Bunson recently interviewed Cardinal William Goh, the archbishop of Singapore, to talk about ongoing work in the country to encourage family life.

“We are trying to protect the family. We have 11 organizations that deal with family life, so we have to work hard at it,” Goh said. “I won’t say that we are doing extremely well, but because we belong to this Asian culture, that family dimension is always important.”

Goh noted that factors such as affluence, or both parents working, can impact family size, while younger people “are not interested” in having families as it affects their commitments, career, and social time.

While Singapore is below the replacement rate for population growth, the government is stepping in to promote family life.

“The beautiful part is this, the government is working with us all. We have a ministry, we call it a Ministry of Social and Family. This ministry, they try to promote family life,” Goh continued. “The programs that they have are very good programs, so we complement each other. We are grateful that the government also sees the importance of growing the family, strengthening our family, and healing people who are divorced and those from dysfunctioning families.”

In contrast, abortion remains fully illegal in Laos and the Philippines as well as in Iran. Numerous East Asian and Middle Eastern nations have strong limitations on abortion. In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Myanmar, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, and Bhutan, abortion is permitted in cases to save a woman’s life. Some of those countries have exceptions for rape, incest, or the physical and mental health of the mother.

Expansion of abortion in Latin America 

Currently, 12 of Mexico’s 32 states allow abortion, while Argentina made headlines in 2020 after its Congress legalized abortion up to 12 weeks, making it the largest country in Latin America to allow the procedure. 

In 2021, Mexico’s Supreme Court struck down a pro-life law in Coahuila that criminalized abortion. Just two years later, the high court threw out all federal criminal penalties by ruling that national laws prohibiting the procedure were unconstitutional. The ruling requires federal health institutions to offer abortions, but access to the procedure remains restricted through most of Mexico. 

The Marea Verde, or Green Wave Movement, a grassroots coalition of pro-abortion protesters who wear green bandanas, have pushed for more access to abortion. Their bandanas have become a badge for pro-abortion movements across Latin America as well as in the United States. 

However, pro-life Argentinians see a glimmer of hope in their new president, Javier Milei. Since taking the helm of Argentina in December 2023, the controversial leader has expressed a desire to roll back Argentina’s law and even called abortion “aggravated murder.”