The Comparative Abortion Index Project
The comparative abortion index quantifies the permissiveness of abortion policies worldwide, accounting for a variety of considerations. It aims to provide researchers with a tool to assess trends in worldwide reproductive rights, and to study how these changes over time and space occur. It is unique in its breadth and its method. Not only does it include a scale that reflects the number of criteria accepted as grounds for abortion, but it includes a second scale which gives weighted scores to each criterion, based on how common it is. These data are relevant for anyone interested in tracking trends in women’s rights, public health policy, and reproductive rights policy over time.
The dataset covers 192 countries from 1992-2013. The UN Department of Social and Economic Affairs has published a global review of abortion policy since 1992. For this database, all reviews published between 1992 and 2013 were collected. The report offers seven criteria under which state law may allow access to abortion services; saving a woman’s life, preserving a woman’s physical health, preserving a woman’s mental health, in case of rape or incest, in case of fetal impairment, for social or economic reasons and on request
Each country-year is given a score based on the number of legal criteria accepted as grounds for abortion. In the first version of the index (CAI1), each criterion is given equal weight and the score is a direct reflection of the number of conditions the country accepts. Thus, a country that has no conditions under which a woman can receive an abortion gets a score of 0. A country, in which a woman may access an abortion under all conditions including on request, receives a score of 7.
For the purposes of robustness—and to fix a potential measurement flaw in the first index—we also offer a weighted index (CAI2). The first scale does not account for the different degrees of acceptance that each criterion represents. It would be imprecise, for instance, to suggest that the criterion of saving a woman’s life is equivalent to (and thus carries the same weight as) allowing abortion on demand. The more permissive the criterion, the less likely that it is universally accepted. Accordingly, the weight of each criterion (Wi) will be determined based on the percentage (Pi) of countries that allow that condition. In the weighted index, countries are given a score on a scale of 0-1, where 0 represents countries in which there are no conditions for legal abortion, and 1 represents a country that accepts all criteria for abortion, including on request. The formula for the weighted index, CAPI2, is therefore:
To cite this data: Forman-Rabinovici, A., & Sommer, U. (2018). Reproductive health policymakers: Comparing the influences of international and domestic institutions on abortion policy. Public Administration, 96(1), 185-199.
Published or forthcoming work using the data:
Forman-Rabinovici, A., & Sommer, U. (2018). Reproductive health policymakers: Comparing the influences of international and domestic institutions on abortion policy. Public Administration, 96(1), 185-199.
Sommer U. & Forman-Rabinovici A. (2019). Producing Reproductive Rights: Determining Abortion Policy Worldwide. Cambridge University Press. Forthcoming