Accessing abortion services

CRC General Comment No. 15 on the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health states that “States should ensure that health systems and services are able to meet the specific sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents, including family planning and safe abortion services. States should work to ensure that girls can make autonomous and informed decisions on their reproductive health”. The Committee recommends “that States ensure access to safe abortion and post-abortion care services, irrespective of whether abortion itself is legal”.

In three EU Member States, abortion is generally considered illegal, with some exceptions – such as a risk to the pregnant woman’s life. Where legal, the minimum age requirement is often set at 16 or 18 years. Some Member States do not set a minimum age but state that the child’s maturity has to be assessed.

View full dataset in data explorer.

Key aspects

  • With some exceptions, such as when the mother’s life is at risk, abortion is illegal in Cyprus, Ireland and Malta.
  • In nine Member States, abortion is only allowed without parental consent from the age of 18 years (Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia and Spain). In some of these Member States, abortion before the age of 18 years may be permissible with judicial or administrative consent.
  • In the other Member States, girls can access abortion services only under specific medical circumstances, depending on the maturity of the pregnant child and on the doctor’s assessment. Under a certain age, parental consent might also be needed. Abortion is only possible within a certain timeframe, which is also the case for adult women.
  • In France and Luxembourg, if the child expresses the desire to maintain confidentiality, she can designate an adult who is not one of her parents to be given the information and to be with her during the procedure.
  • The lowest minimum age requirement expressly set for abortion without parental consent is 15 years in Slovenia.