7 Surprising Countries Where Abortion Is Illegal, Even Now

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On January 28, 1935, Iceland became the first country to legalize abortion, making Wednesday the 80th anniversary of the legalization. Nearly a century has passed since this historical legislation, but there are still dozens of countries that outlaw abortion. While it's not surprising at all that abortion is illegal in many of these nations, who have similarly antiquated laws regarding LGBT and gender rights, a few stand out as being seemingly more progressive than that.

There has been some contention over whether Iceland was indeed the first country to legalize abortion. Though the Soviet Union technically legalized abortion first in 1919, the terms were different from what we recognize today as a modern legalization policy, plus the law was reversed in 1936. Thus, Iceland is widely known as the first. On January 28, 1935, the Nordic country passed Law No. 38, which legalized abortion based on certain health and social conditions, like the mother and the fetus's health and if the mother was impregnated as a result of rape.

While Iceland's law has remained conditional, the country still paved the way for the many that have fully legalized abortion. Between 1950 and 1985, most developed countries legalized abortion, declaring it a fundamental human right. These include major nations like the U.S. and China, plus surprising countries like India — where gender discrimination is still a major issue — and even the autocratic North Korea. That perspective makes it all the more baffling that some of the world's most evolved countries still outlaw abortion.

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