Volume 23, Issue 5 (December & January - Special Issue on COVID-19 2020)                   J Arak Uni Med Sci 2020, 23(5): 686-697 | Back to browse issues page

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Rashidpouraie R, Sharifi M N, Rashidpouraei M. Abortion Laws and Regulations in Iran and European Countries During the COVID-19 Pandemic. J Arak Uni Med Sci 2020; 23 (5) :686-697
URL: http://jams.arakmu.ac.ir/article-1-6510-en.html
1- Department of Medical Ethics, School of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. , dr.roya9@gmail.com
2- Department of Medical Ethics, School of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
3- Department of Ultrasound, The Burwin Institute of Diagnostic Medical Ultrasound, Toronto, Canada.
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1. Introduction
bortion has always posed challenges in the areas of ethics, law, religion, philosophy, and reproductive health. Today, abortion is a major challenge in Iran. Social developments and increasing the level of health literacy, and awareness and participation of women in social and economic fields have led to incompatibility of theoretical and practical aspects in these areas. Women sometimes have abortions without attention to sharia rules and criminal laws. In Iran, the reasons for legal abortion are the life-threatening conditions of the mother and the fetus. During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, some countries have revised their abortion laws and regulations. In some countries, such as France and Finland, these revisions are permanent; in countries such as Portugal and Norway, the changes are temporary; and in other countries such as Germany and Belgium, it is unclear whether the changes are permanent or temporary. In this study, we aim to review these revisions in Europe and Iran. Then, by discussing the new guidelines, we evaluate the effects and consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on abortion. 
2. Material and Methods
The search was conducted in PubMed/MEDLINE, ScienceDirect, Scopus and Google Scholar as well as national databases including SID, MagIran, and IranMedex on studies published from 2002 to 2020 using the following keywords:Abortion, induced abortion, illegal abortion, and COVID-19. Due to the onset of SARS-COV1 epidemic in 2002, all articles that had been published during these two outbreaks were searched.
3. Results
During the COVID-19 pandemic, some European countries revised abortion laws and regulations, mostly, due to realize the reproductive health right. It seems that this revision has not yet been taken place in Iran. By examining temporary or permanent revisions of abortion laws and regulations made in Europe, it seems that the policymakers in the field of public health in Iran during the pandemic should have a comprehensive, timely and scientific view of the effects and consequences of such diseases, because the speed of decision making and presenting policy packages, especially in cases such as abortion which is very time-sensitive, can prevent short-term and long-term complications and morbidity in pregnant women and reduce the huge economic and social costs of families and governments. Currently, the guidelines of the National Coronavirus Combat and Prevention Headquarters in Iran are binding on all executive organs, and it is one of organizations that can issue instructions for temporary revision of medical abortion's regulations. Therefore, considering the high number of illegal abortions in Iran and the social restriction made by the National Coronavirus Combat and Prevention Headquarters, there is a need to issue instructions based on the principles of medical ethics.
4. Discussion and Conclusion
With the emergence of COVID-19, some countries had revised their abortion laws and regulations to reduce unsafe abortions. It seems that during the Covid19 pandemic, due to changes in lifestyle such as social distancing and economic and social lockdowns, there seems to be a need to revise medical laws and regulations in health-oriented and time-dependent areas (such as abortion) so that the principles of medical ethics such as beneficence and maleficent, can be applied. Having COVID-19 and consequently abortion during the pandemic is one of the most challenging issues that should be addressed in terms of ethical, jurisprudential and legal aspects. Development of regulations based on ethical principles during the COVID-19 pandemic is necessary to prevent illegal and unsafe abortions.

Ethical Considerations
Compliance with ethical guidelines

All ethical principles were observed in writing this article.

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. 

Authors' contributions
All authors contributed equally to this work. 

Conflicts of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interests.

The authors would like to thank Prof. Eskandar Omidinia for his corporation.

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Type of Study: Review Article | Subject: COVID-19
Received: 2020/05/19 | Accepted: 2020/10/6

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