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What Countries Punish Women For Getting Abortions? Donald Trump's Recent Comments Have People Wondering

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New York businessman and current GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump has said some pretty interesting and controversial things while on the campaign trail for the Republican primary nomination. And while Trump making controversial statements doesn't quite come as a surprise, it's his recent stance on abortion that's gotten him into trouble, and caused groups on both sides of the political aisle to become upset — for good reason. In an exclusive interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Wednesday, Trump said that there would have to be "some sort of punishment" for a woman getting an abortion, if it were to be made illegal. Many have questioned the validity of that theory, since Roe v. Wade effectively protected abortion under the Constitution. But while abortion is currently legal in the United States, there are other countries that do punish women for getting abortions.

According to worldabortionlaws.com, there are currently 66 countries that ban abortion altogether (with a portion of those having exceptions where abortion is okay to save a woman's life). Among those countries are ones located in the Middle East, such as Afghanistan and Syria; some in Africa, such as Sudan and Nigeria; and others located in South America, such as Brazil and Chile. These 66 countries make up for a little over 25 percent of the world's population.  

MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images
Feminists hold banners in favor of abortion during the 'Grito dos Excluidos' ('Call of the Excluded', in Portuguese) march against all situations of exclusion 07 September 2007, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, during Independance Day. AFP PHOTO/Mauricio LIMA (Photo credit should read MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images)

In South America, despite abortion being illegal in almost all countries of the region (with the exception of Cuba), most allow criminal penalties to be waived or lowered in specific circumstances such as when the pregnant woman is in danger or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

In other South American countries such as El Salvador, this isn't the case and women face criminal punishment. Humans Rights Watch reported that some South American countries are seeking to decriminalize abortion but in most countries the lack of proper regulations and fear of legal prosecution are enough to limit women's options.

In Ireland, abortion is illegal and only legal when a pregnant woman's life is at risk, including the risk of suicide. The Irish Family Planning Association reports that every year, an estimated 5,000 women travel abroad to access safe and legal abortions.

Abortion is also criminalized in most circumstances in Northern Ireland, leading Amnesty International to claim in a statement last June that Ireland's abortion law is "one of the most restrictive in the world." If someone were to have an illegal abortion in Ireland or assist someone in having one, they would face up to 14 years in prison and medical professionals could face a €4,000 (about $4,352 USD) fine for giving women comprehensive information about the procedures.

While the laws and criminal penalties differ from country to country where abortion is banned, many women still end up behind bars as a form of punishment. Trump may have eventually backtracked on his divisive comments and released a statement on Wednesday (in which he clarified that he would seek punishment for abortion providers and not the woman having the abortion), but it's important the the public keep the conversation in mind and not allow the United States to become the next country ramping up its anti-abortion laws even further.