1873 – The passage of the Comstock Act in the United States makes it illegal to send any "obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious" materials through the mail, including contraceptive devices and information on contraception or abortion and how to obtain them. (see also advertisement of abortion services).
1918 - In the United States, Margaret Sanger was charged under the New York law against disseminating contraceptive information. On appeal, her conviction was reversed on the grounds that contraceptive devices could legally be promoted for the cure and prevention of disease.
1931– Mexico as first country in the world legalized abortion in case of rape.
1932– Poland as first country in Europe outside Soviet Union legalized abortion in cases of rape and threat to maternal health.
1935 – Iceland became the first Western country to legalize therapeutic abortion under limited circumstances.
1935 – Nazi Germany amended its eugenics law, to promote abortion for women who have hereditary disorders. The law allowed abortion if a woman gave her permission, and if the fetus was not yet viable, and for purposes of so-called racial hygiene.
1971– The Indian Parliament under the Prime Ministership of Indira Gandhi, passes Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971 (MTP Act 1971). India thus becomes one of the earliest nations to pass this Act. The Act gains importance, considering India had traditionally been a very conservative country in these matters. Most notably there was no similar Act in several US states around the same time.
1972 – Florida reformed its abortion law based on the ALI MPC.
1973 – The U.S. Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, declared all the individual state bans on abortion during the first trimester to be unconstitutional, allowed states to regulate but not proscribe abortion during the second trimester, and allowed states to proscribe abortion during the third trimester unless abortion is in the best interest of the woman's physical or mental health. The Court legalized abortion in all trimesters when a woman's doctor believes the abortion is necessary for her physical or mental health and held that only a "compelling state interest" justified regulations limiting the individual right to privacy.
1973–1980 – France (1975), West Germany (1976), New Zealand (1977), Italy (1978), and the Netherlands (1980) legalized abortion in limited circumstances. (France : no elective -for non-medical reasons- abortion allowed after 10–12 weeks gestation)
1976–1977– Representative Henry Hyde of Illinois sponsors the Hyde Amendment, which passes, allows states to prohibit the use of Medicaid funding for abortions.
1978 - US Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed, prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
1979 – The People's Republic of China enacted a one-child policy, to alleviate social, economic, and environmental problems in China, encouraging many couples to have at most one child, and in some cases imposing penalties for violating the policy.
1983 – Ireland, by popular referendum, added an amendment to its Constitution recognizing "the right to life of the unborn." Abortion is still illegal in Ireland, except as urgent medical procedures to save a woman's life.
1988 – France legalized the "abortion pill" mifepristone (RU-486).
1988 – In R. v. Morgentaler, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the abortion regulation which allowed abortions in some circumstances but required approval of a committee of doctors for violating a woman's constitutional "security of person"; Canadian law has not regulated abortion ever since.
2003 – The U.S. enacted the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act and PresidentGeorge W. Bush signed it into law. After the law was challenged in three appeals courts, the U.S. Supreme Court held that it was constitutional because, unlike the earlier Nebraska state law, it was not vague or overly broad. The court also held that banning the procedure did not constitute an "undue burden," even without a health exception. (see also: Gonzales v. Carhart)
2005 – The U.S. Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (implemented in January 2007) prevented college health centers and many health care providers from participating in the drug pricing discount program, which formerly allowed contraceptives to be sold to students and women of low income in the United States at low cost.
2007 – The Parliament of Portugal voted to legalize abortion during the first ten weeks of pregnancy. This followed a referendum that, while revealing that a majority of Portuguese voters favored legalization of early-stage abortions, failed due to low voter turnout. The second referendum passed, however, and President Cavaco Silva signed the measure into effect in April, 2007.
2007 – The government of Mexico City legalizes abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and offers free abortions. On August 28, 2008, the Mexican Supreme Court upholds the law.
2007 – The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.
2008– The Australian state of Victoria passes a bill which decriminalizes abortion, making it legally accessible to women in the first 24 weeks of the pregnancy.
2009 – In Spain a bill decriminalizes abortion, making it legally accessible to women in the first 14 weeks of the pregnancy.
^ abFreedman, Lynn P.; Stephen L. Isaacs (Jan–Feb 1993). "Human Rights and Reproductive Choice". Studies in Family Planning (Studies in Family Planning, Vol. 24, No. 1) 24 (1): 18–30. doi:10.2307/2939211. JSTOR2939211. PMID8475521.|accessdate= requires |url= (help)
^ abCook, Rebecca J.; Mahmoud F. Fathalla (September 1996). "Advancing Reproductive Rights Beyond Cairo and Beijing". International Family Planning Perspectives (International Family Planning Perspectives, Vol. 22, No. 3) 22 (3): 115–121. doi:10.2307/2950752. JSTOR2950752.|accessdate= requires |url= (help)
^Proctor, Robert E. (1989). Racial Hygiene: Medicine Under the Nazis. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. pp. 122–123. ISBN0-674-74578-7. OCLC20760638. Abortion, in other words, could be allowed if it was in the interest of racial hygiene… the Nazis did allow (and in some cases even required) abortions for women deemed racially inferior… On November 10, 1938, a Luneberg court declared abortion legal for Jews.
^ abUnited Nations (2002). Abortion Policies: A Global Review: Oman to Zimbabwe. New York City: United Nations Publications. p. 50. ISBN92-1-151365-0. OCLC84347959. In its decree of 23 November 1955, the government of the former USSR repealed the general prohibition on the performance of abortions contained in the 1936 Decree.