Current status of abortion legislation in different countries is reviewed. During the period from 1967-1977, a total of 43 countries introduced certain changes in their legislation. Of these 43 countries, 40 liberalized abortion procedures and 3 countries limited the rights of abortion seekers. Liberalization of abortion legislation in France and Italy was associated with women's rights movement and adoption of Human Rights Declaration. Austria, France, East Germany, West Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have the most liberal abortion policy, while Rumania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria have the most restricted legislation. Liberalization of abortion does not necessarily mean availability on demand. High cost in private clinics and hospitals prevents many women from seeking a legal abortion. In Asia, Singapore, China, and India permit abortions, while in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Burma abortions are banned. In Northern and Latin America, abortions are legalized in the US and Cuba; liberalization of abortion legislation is recorded in Guatemala, El Salvador, Uruguay, Chile, and Colombia. In spite of a general liberalization of legislation, abortion policies are still affected by religious and political groups. Ban on legal abortion increases the frequency of criminal abortion, which in turn leads to increase in maternal mortality.
In Canada, the history of state regulation of abortion is underexamined, leaving the general impression that the state played a secondary role to that of the medical profession in attempting to enforce the federal anti-abortion law. Studies have focused on "regular" physicians as a regulator of abortion to such an extent that the state's involvement in this process has been largely neglected or obscured. In contrast, this study highlights the actions taken by lower-level state agencies, namely, the Coroner's Inquisition and municipal and provincial police, to enforce the federal abortion law in British Columbia. The study examines the records of the inquests held into the deaths of 34 women from illegal abortion and offers three main observations. First, state agencies consistently sought information about abortionists and the circumstances surrounding the abortions from the women in hospital, their families, lovers, and doctors. Especially important is how authorities routinely attempted to extract dying declarations from the ill women. Second, while it is clear doctors participated in the investigative process, the records suggest they were often ambivalent or reluctant to do so. Finally, this study concludes that many of the actors involved in these events resisted the authorities' attempts to enforce the law, some successfully, thereby effectively undermining state regulatory practices as a result.