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Submitted By-Tharun Pranav

Third Year Law Student,

Christ (Deemed To Be University), Bangalore


Abortion is often seen as a question of maternal or foetal rights. It's hardly unexpected that a rudimentary analysis hasn't produced a conclusive answer or that the issue remains disputed. Economic analysis is a complex technique. Abortion shows market failure. The foetus (or, in another logical perspective, the person the unborn would become if the abortion did not occur) cannot participate in an arms-length transaction. The fetus's adult self may cherish his life more than the parents. If the foetus has the assets and negotiating power of an adult, it could be able to pay the parents enough to prevent an abortion. Abortion is economically inefficient in these situations. A temporal market barrier limits economic efficiency. Instead of banning abortions, a market should be created. A foetal representative might bid against the parents on abortion. Most foetuses have no assets. Thus they must borrow against their future profits. If parents win the bidding battle, they may have an abortion but must pay the Fetal Bank. If the foetus wins, it may be born, but a portion of its future profits goes to the bank. Any extra funds might be redistributed (in a liberal system) or invested in embryonic enterprises.

Keywords: Abortion, Economic Analysis, Foetus, Market


Abortion is one of the most frequent surgeries women undergo. One in five pregnancies resulted in abortion in the United States in 2014, and one in four women are believed to have had an abortion in their lifetime. One in four pregnancies worldwide result in abortion. To be able to give patients with safe and high-quality treatment, it is crucial that all clinicians understand the prevalence of abortion, the alternatives available, the safety, the constraints, and the access concerns related with abortion.

A council of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine reviewed the existing data and confirmed in their 2018 report that all forms of abortion, including medication and aspiration abortion, are safe and effective, with the only factors decreasing safety being those that restrict access. Abortions in the first trimester offer little danger of infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, or breast cancer in the long run. Abortion has no risk to the mental health of a patient.

Abortion may be accomplished by the use of medicine or a process often referred to as surgical abortion or aspiration abortion. There may be maternal or foetal considerations involved in the decision to terminate a pregnancy. The pre-abortion evaluation often involves a complete blood count, coagulation profile, type and crossmatch, sexually transmitted infection test, human chorionic gonadotropin levels, and a pelvic ultrasound to confirm intrauterine pregnancy. Abortion using medication may be performed at home. Typically, the aspiration abortion is done in a hospital or clinic under local anesthetic, with or without conscious sedation.

The perspective on abortion was and still is one that is rife with controversy from the beginning. However, during the course of human history, it has undergone a number of shifts; for instance, during the ages of ancient Greece and Rome, it was generally recognized as true. On the other side, the vast majority of males were opposed abortion due to the fact that they believed they had a fundamental right to procreate. A few allusions to abortion may be found in the Old Testament. In these passages, a foetus is seen as an object, not a live entity, and hence abortion is permitted. In other words, there existed a law that said a person must be punished for the crime of causing another person to have a miscarriage. There is not a single mention of this subject anywhere in the New Testament. Later on, abortion in the western world was decriminalized provided it took place before a specified time limit, which was often between 18 and 20 weeks into the pregnancy.

Although it was a popular practice in colonial America, it was almost always kept a secret due to the fact that engaging in sexual activity before to marriage was frowned upon by the culture. In England, the Abortion Act of 1967 decriminalized and completely legalized abortion, but subject to a number of restrictions. It indicates that a doctor has the authority to conduct an abortion if other two physicians agree that this is done for the benefit of the woman. Other than that, an abortion is illegal in the United States. For instance, medical professionals are certain that having a child would be detrimental to a woman's physical and mental health in some way. However, there are a lot of people on both sides of the argument over whether or not abortion should be authorized.

Abortion Laws Around The World

As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of the 1973 Roe v. Wade[1] ruling, which established a constitutional right to abortion, the United States is currently one of a few nations that severely limit access to the surgery.

The individual states will now choose whether to authorize or limit abortions, the Supreme Court of the United States decided last month. In at least eleven U.S. states, abortions are outlawed or severely restricted. According to a report by NPR, roughly 12 states have already enacted legislation allowing state authorities to prohibit or limit practice access immediately.

In other parts of the globe, abortions are either wholly prohibited or legal with narrow limits.[2] Frequently, there are restrictions on when an abortion may be performed, typically based on gestational time constraints—examining the abortion regulations of various nations worldwide.[3]

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971 permits abortions up to 20 weeks of gestation.[4] A 2021 amendment expanded the abortion limit to 24 weeks for particular groups of pregnant women, such as survivors of rape or incest, with the agreement of two certified physicians.[5]

In situations of foetal impairment, there is no upper gestational restriction for the treatment as long as it is authorized by a medical board of specialized physicians established by the governments of states and union territories.

According to the worldwide advocacy organization Center for Reproductive Rights, abortion is prohibited in 24 countries, where around 90 million or 5% of women of reproductive age live.[6] In Africa, they include Senegal, Mauritania, and Egypt; Asia, Laos, and the Philippines; Central America, El Salvador, and Honduras; and Europe, Poland, and Malta.[7]

According to the strict rules in several of these nations, women who have abortions are imprisoned. In El Salvador, for instance, several women who have performed abortions, even in situations of miscarriage, have been found guilty of "aggravated murder."

Malta is the only nation in the European Union with an absolute prohibition on abortions.[8] Just one year ago, the country saw a major pro-choice campaign demanding the repeal of the nation's centuries-old abortion restrictions. In 2021, Poland enacted a near-total ban on abortions, permitting them only in circumstances of rape, incest, or when the mother's life is in danger.

According to statistics from the Guttmacher Institute, although the incidence of unwanted pregnancies in Africa has decreased by around 15% over the last three decades, the number of abortions has increased by roughly 13%.[9] Numerous African governments have either outlawed or severely limited abortions. This treatment is only approved in Nigeria if the mother's life is at risk. In Zimbabwe and Botswana, abortion is permitted in incest, birth deformities, and rape circumstances.

Approximately 50 nations, including Libya, Indonesia, Nigeria, Iran, and Venezuela, legalize abortions when a woman's health is threatened. Several others permit abortion in circumstances of rape, incest, or defective foetal development.

For instance, Brazil only permits abortions for foetal impairment or rape. In such

circumstances, the lady will require consent from at least three clinical specialists and one physician.[10] In 2020, a health ministry policy obliged physicians to report to the police anybody seeking an abortion after being raped.

In Canada, Australia, and most of Europe, limitations are limited to gestational limits. Although Canada does not have a statute giving the right to an abortion, it has been legal at all stages of pregnancy and for any cause for the last 34 years. In 1998, the United States Supreme Court threw down a federal statute that prohibited abortions for decades.

The court in United States concluded that the statute infringed a woman's Charter of Rights and Freedoms-guaranteed right to "life, liberty, and security of the person."

Most European nations authorize abortions up to the gestational limit, often between 12 and 14 weeks. In several countries, however, some exceptions permit abortions even later. In the United Kingdom, for instance, pregnancy may be terminated up to the moment of delivery in situations of foetal impairment.

Following large demonstrations by pro-choice organizations and women's rights campaigners, several historically conservative Catholic nations in Europe and Latin America have increased abortion rights.

The Colombian Constitutional Court ruled to allow abortion before 24 weeks of pregnancy after the Causa Justa movement, comprising of human rights and civil society organizations, brought the matter before it, according to The Washington Post. Before this, abortions were only permitted in cases of rape, nonviable pregnancy, or when the mother's life was in danger.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of Mexico ruled last year to overturn state legislation that allowed police to imprison women for getting abortions, including in situations of rape.[11]

Ireland had one of the most significant breakthroughs in abortion rights in 2018 when the population chose to repeal the country's stringent abortion regulations. A woman may now choose abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Nonetheless, the legislation stipulates that individuals who assist in an unlawful abortion are subject to arrest and a maximum punishment of 14 years in jail.[12]

In 2019, neighboring Northern Ireland became the last U.K. country to repeal its abortion restriction.

In 2020, New Zealand decriminalized abortions, increasing the legal period to 20 weeks. Before that, two physicians were required to authorize an abortion, which was performed only in circumstances when the pregnancy constituted a "Serious Threat" to the woman's health.

Crime And Abortion

The economic analysis of crime postulates that the amount of punishment and its certainty, the level of rightful economic possibility, the composition of the population, and many other socioeconomic variables offer a reasonably full explanation for the level of crime at a given time and location. The four-point pattern of contemporary crime in the United States that was sketched at the outset of this article has been studied utilizing the independent variables that have just been mentioned. The 1973 legalization of abortion, according to a disputed paper by John Donohue and Steve Levitt, provides a radically different explanation for the current drop in crime rates.[13]

While the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade in January 1973, there was a considerable rise in the number of abortions, from less than 750,000 in 1973 (when live births reached 3.1 million) to 1.6 million legal abortions per year in 1980. (When live births totaled 3.6 million). Donohue and Levitt suggest that the rise in abortions might explain for half of the observed drop in crime rates after 1991.[14] All other variables combined account for half of the remaining variance.

Donohue and Levitt classify the impact of legalized abortion on the fall in crime as the "cohort size effect" and the "cohort quality effect." The cohort size impact suggests that the fall in the number of 18-year-old men starting in 1991 is a significant factor in the crime decline. But they also argue, controversially, that the "quality" of the young men who were aborted after 1973 would have made them more prone to commit crime and other antisocial activities than the ordinary 18-year-old male. The reasons for this include that "women who have abortions [teenage moms, unmarried women, and economically poor women] are more likely to have children who participate in criminal activities." Women often utilize abortion to adjust the date of childbirth; they may delay children until their economic or personal circumstances improve.

Then, children are born into improved settings.[15]

Five statistical considerations are cited by the authors to support their argument.[16] First, there were fewer individuals and a lower fraction of the population in the high-crime ages in the early 1990s, due in large part to the rise in abortions starting in 1973. Second, five states allowed abortion in 1970, before the Supreme Court authorized abortion in Roe v. Wade, and the reduction in crime rates began sooner in these states than in the rest of the nation. Third, a statistically significant association exists between "greater abortion rates in the late 1970s and early 1980s" and "lower crime rates [in those states] from 1985 to 1997." Fourth, there is no association between a state's higher abortion rates in the middle or late 1970s and its crime rates between 1972 and 1985. And sixth, practically the entire fall in crime during the 1990s may be ascribed to a decrease in crime among cohorts born after the legalization of abortion; there has been no change in crime among older cohorts over the past three decades.

Donohue and Levitt ascribe almost half of the drop in crime during the 1990s to the legalization of abortion. They ascribe 50 percent to the "size of the cohort" impact and 50 percent to the "quality of the cohort."[17] Their statistical study, however, has not performed well under close inspection. When the regressions are recalculated using more exact crime rates of the age-appropriate cohorts, the relevance of abortion rates seems to diminish.[18] The future will bring improved econometric analysis to the study of crime and abortion, which is the only remedy for insufficient econometric analysis.[19]

Economic Analysis Of Abortion

Typically, abortion is seen as a problem concerning the rights of either the mother or the unborn foetus. It is unsurprising that such a rudimentary method of study has failed to offer a conclusive conclusion and that the topic has remained very contentious. Economic analysis is, as usual, a far more complex and sophisticated analytical instrument.[20]

Abortion is a typical illustration of market failure.[21] One of the interested parties, the unborn (or, on another philosophical perspective, the person the foetus would become if the abortion did not occur), is unable to engage in a trade on an equal footing. The adult into whom the baby would have developed may place a greater value on his life than the parents do on the abortion. If the foetus had access to the possible assets it could earn as an adult and the negotiating skills of an adult, it would likely be able to pay the parents enough to convince them not to have an abortion. Allowing the abortion under these conditions is economically inefficient. A temporary market barrier precludes the achievement of the economically optimal solution.

However, the answer is not a ban on abortions, but rather the development of a market. A representative for the foetus might be chosen to compete against the parents in the abortion decision. Since the majority of foetuses lack assets, they would likely be need to borrow against their future earnings. The parents may have an abortion if they win the bidding battle, but they must deposit their winning offer into the Fetal Bank. If the foetus wins, it is permitted to be born, but the bank would get a portion of its future profits. The Bank's funds may be used to provide loans to foetuses; any surplus would be available for redistribution (under a liberal system) or, even better, could be invested in embryonic enterprises.

There may be some objections to this plan, but a thorough investigation reveals that they are baseless. Since they could not outbid their babies, the impoverished would be obliged to undergo abortions, according to one counterargument.[22] However, the children of the impoverished often have low earning potentials; hence, the foetuses of the poor would likewise fall inside low income groups. The ability of destitute foetuses to borrow relatively little amounts of money would put them on level with their impoverished parents.

Existence of externalities is a further conceivable problem. Abortion is offensive to pro-life people. They, along with pro-choice campaigners, people wishing to adopt the children, those wanting zero population increase, and others, might join the bidding.

Some parents may dishonestly claim that they planned to have abortions in order to force their babies to compete against them for a portion of their future wages. If the fetus's offer was paid to the parents, this may pose a significant issue.

 Therefore, it is better for the foetus' profits to be distributed only to the Bank, removing the incentive.

One benefit of this free-market approach is that it reflects mainstream opinions about when abortion is more acceptable or, at the very least, justifiable. Because foetuses with genetic abnormalities would have a poor future earning potential, their parents would often outbid them. In addition, the longer the pregnancy lasts, the shorter the time for which the foetus would need to borrow the money; hence, the discounted present value of the foetus' future wages would increase significantly. A late-term abortion might potentially cost a parent tens of thousands of dollars more than an early-term abortion. Also, because the option to abort would be costly, people who do not want children would have a strong incentive to utilize contraception.

Unlike any other suggested solution to the abortion problem, this method accords equal weight to both the foetus and the parents' interests. True, people who believe in choice may be dismayed that such a basic decision must be purchased, while others who are pro-life may find it offensive that foetuses must bid for their lives. Still, as the great Milton Friedman has said several times, "there's no such thing as a free lunch."


The renowned Tamil saint Thiruvalluvar once stated, "The touch of children is the happiness of the body, and hearing their discourse is the delight of the ear." A woman has a natural obligation to give her kids with the greatest possible care. However, scenarios may emerge in which she engages in behaviors that are harmful to the foetus. It might be due to ignorance, carelessness, or deliberate actions. Abortion is a matter that should be left to the mother's discretion. However, using viability as a legal norm, the unborn should be afforded the essential protection. It is also advantageous for the mother when the state or nonprofit groups are prepared to care for the unborn. There is no use in granting the woman the right to abort the foetus. Her ability to terminate the pregnancy is constrained. According to others, delivering 20 million newborns yearly would place a larger demand on the nation's medical services and economic resources than, for example, conducting one to five million abortions annually.

The law must protect both the liberty of the mother and the unborn. As a welcoming society, we should investigate methods to provide assistance for lonely and fearful moms and abandoned infants. We must provide as much love and support as necessary to women with unintended pregnancies and aid them in finding humane alternatives to abortion.

As a result of the emergence of a global pandemic into a restrictive abortion environment in many countries around the world, it is crucial to conduct research on novel approaches and access to abortion care that will meet the needs of individuals attempting to manage their fertility while facing different structural barriers, political obstacles, and socioeconomic obstacles. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has compelled abortion providers to create innovative techniques, including telemedicine, that fulfil the limits of statutory prohibitions and the social reality of the pandemic. Consequently, there is an obvious need for greater study on people's requirements for abortion services, the best feasible means of delivering abortion services in this terrain of restrictions, and the mechanisms required to assist individuals get safe access to abortion. Nonetheless, this study cannot be conducted in a vacuum, making it all the more crucial to have easily accessible data on the economic costs and consequences of abortion services and legislation over the preceding three decades.

Although very few research are identified explicitly by their authors or their methodology as "economic" studies, our study demonstrates that the evidence base contains a lot of economically relevant information. It is feasible to deduce micro-level values and advantages of abortion-related care by evaluating people's motives for having abortions, despite the fact that very little information discusses the economic values and benefits of abortions.[23] Abortion-related decisions are often the consequence of a complex interaction of variables; these reasons are seldom isolated (wealth, education, status, education, relationship).[24] Furthermore, the interactions between economy and delays in abortion-related treatment are remarkable. In varied situations and groups, economic considerations impact abortion-related decision-making delays, care-seeking efforts, and care receipt. By deconstructing the points at which economic considerations introduce or exacerbate delays in abortion-related care, it is possible to get deeper insight into the points at which information and services may be structured to decrease delays. By analyzing the intersectionality of these economic aspects in more detail, we may better comprehend how health systems and environments reinforce injustices and disparities.


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