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April 1, 1961

Legal Abortion in Eastern Europe

Author Affiliations

New York City

JAMA. 1961;175(13):1149-1154. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040130033008

Legislation permitting abortion at the request of the pregnant woman, or on social indications, has been enacted since 1955 in most countries of Eastern Europe. By 1959, legal abortions had risen to one-tenth of the number of live births in Poland and to one-third each in Bulgaria (1958) and Czechoslovakia. In Hungary they exceeded the live births. Criminal abortion declined substantially. Very low death rates reported from Hungary and Czechoslovakia (6 per 100,000 legal abortions) are believed to have resulted mainly from restricting legal abortion to the first three months of pregnancy unless a medical indication is present. These low death rates compare favorably with mortality from all complications of pregnancy, childbirth, and the puerperium (excluding abortion) in the United States and other advanced countries.