Overview of Safe Abortion Status in  Nepal

Overview of Safe Abortion Status in Nepal

~Kamala Bist, Youth Champion

Abortion is the ending of a pregnancy by removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus before it can survive outside the uterus. An abortion that occurs without intervention is known as a miscarriage or spontaneous abortion. When deliberate steps are taken to end a pregnancy, it is called an induced abortion, or less frequently “induced miscarriage”. The unmodified word abortion generally refers to an induced abortion. A similar procedure after the fetus has potential to survive outside the womb is known as a “late termination of pregnancy” or less accurately as a “late term abortion”.

Nepal made abortion legal in September 2002. The government began providing comprehensive abortion care services in March 2004 (GoN, DoHS, FHD, WHO, and CHREPA 2006). The current abortion law in Nepal allows women to terminate their pregnancy under the following conditions:

With Consent of the woman,

Pregnancies up to 12 weeks gestation

Upto 28 weeks of pregnancy for all women who suffer from mental health conditions, whose life is in risk if they continue the pregnancy, or if the fetus is deformed (With the recommendation from a certified health professional)

Upto 28 weeks of pregnancy for women who have experiences rape or incest

Upto 28 weeks of pregnancy if the woman is suffering from chronic health issues such as HIV.

Upto 28 weeks of pregnancy if the fetus is not viable or the fetus has genetic disorders. (With recommendation from health professional)if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, and pregnancies of 28 weeks (with the recommendation from the service provider)

 According to (NDHS 2016) Overall, two in five (41%) women age 15-49 were aware that abortion is legal in Nepal. Those living in urban areas (43%) were more likely to be aware that abortion is legal than those living in rural areas (36%). Awareness of the legality of abortion increases with increasing education. According to annual report (2074/75) More than 100,000 women have received safe abortion services from certified service sites since the service began in Nepal in 2060/61.

The use of safe abortions services increased over the last decade. Total safe abortion service users were 96,417 women in 2073/74 and 98,640 in 2074/75. Share of medical abortion among total safe abortion service (SAS) users also gradually increased over the last few years, from 53 percent in 2072/73, 56 percent in 2073/74 and 62 percent in 2074/75. Proportion of adolescents (< 20 years) among SAS user declined over the last three years for both medical and surgical abortion. Total reported post-abortion complication also decline over the last three years.

Despite of all the significant progress Nepal has made in terms of reducing maternal mortality linked to unsafe abortion, women and girls are still facing numerous barriers to obtain the services in the country. There is still a huge gap of information on legal status of abortion and availability of services. Stigma still surrounds the women seeking abortion and the patriarchal structure of our society continues to prevent women from having an individual choice and decision about what do to with their own body.