Although women have resorted to the practice of induced abortion to get rid of unwanted pregnancies, the large-scale acceptance of this practice is a recent phenomenon.

For example, in Japan, the Eugenic Protection Law of 1948 permitted induced abortions under certain easy conditions, when Japanese women resorted to induced abortions on a very large scale.

As a result, the birth rate in Japan declined rapidly after 1949; the crude birth rate, which was 32.8 per thousand populations in 1948, went down to 17.7 per thousand populations in 1959, a reduction of about 45 per cent in just about a decade.

At the same time, the number of induced abortions per thousand populations increased from 3.0 in 1949 to 12.3 in 1958. Induced abortions may thus be seen to have played an effective role in bringing down the birth rate.


In the socialist countries of Eastern Europe, abortion policies have undergone several changes since 1920. The USSR was the first socialist country to legalise abortion and permit it on request. This policy was reversed by a decree in 1936 which, however, was repealed in 1955.

At present, women in the USSR are allowed to undergo induced abortions as this gives them the opportunity to decide for “themselves the question of motherhood.”

Following the USSR, other socialist countries of Eastern Europe, with the exception of Albania and East Germany, have, from 1955 onwards, made induced abortion legal at various dates.

In recent times, however, in some of these countries, such as Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania, abortion laws have undergone some changes those in Romania being the most drastic.


Though declines in the birth rates of the countries started at different dates, the latest data on birth rates in East European countries reveal that, wherever induced abortion was legalised, the birth rates were low, varying within a very narrow range of 17.2 per thousand population in Bulgaria to 19.8 per thousand population in Czechoslovakia.

Romania’s crude birth rate was 20.3 per thousand populations in 1974, which is comparatively quite high. It has, however, been pointed out earlier that the facility of induced abortion has not been available in that country since 1966.