Health care policy and abortion: A comparison. The abortion policies of these Western, industrialized countries reflect different attitudes toward women's health, children, and families

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The abortion policies in legal and social context of the United State, Canada, Great Britain and Italy are compared and contrasted. U.S. abortion policy is unique in being promulgated by the courts, rather than the legislature. The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision made the U.S. one of the 1st Western countries to liberalize abortion. U.S. law seems to be interested is protecting the life of the fetus, in contrast to other Western nations whose policies further the life of the child and support mothers and families. The U.S. has a relatively low rate of contraceptive use, because contraceptive services are not free to all in need, and furthermore are provided by medical specialists who bill at market rates. The Canadian federal abortion law of 1967 was reversed by the supreme court in 1988, leaving abortion policy up to each province. Where abortion is paid for by state funds, doctors usually add on a fee. In contrast to the U.S., contraception is subsidized and readily available. In Great Britain, the Abortion Act of 1967 permits abortion in hospitals after the woman receives permission of 2 doctors. Since 1976 it has been permitted in private clinics, but most women wait the average 3 weeks and go for the 2-day hospital stay under the National Health Service. Abortion rates are less than half those in the U.S., while contraceptive use is more than double. In Italy abortion is available through the National Health Service in 1st trimester for medical, psychological and social reasons. Most clients are married mothers aged 25-34, reflecting the lower contraceptive use rate there.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-25
Number of pages6
JournalNursing outlook
Volume38
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)

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