Today, Nepal has one of the most liberal first trimester abortion laws in South Asia, and in the world. But, this was not always so. As we saw in Part 1 of ASAP’s video series on the 10th anniversary of Decriminalization of Abortion in Nepal, abortion was criminal until 2002, and women found to have had abortions were imprisoned, or fined.
Studies undertaken in 1991, suggested that unsafe abortion contributed to over 50% of the maternal deaths in the country. This goaded activists, doctors, researchers and lawyers to challenge the ban on abortions, and demand the right to safe abortion. In spite of their dedication and enthusiasm it took over 10 years for the law to be finally passed. The road to legalization of abortion in Nepal was long and bumpy. In the second part of our video series, Advocate Sapana Pradhan Malla recalls the legal struggle to make abortion legal in Nepal.
As Adv. Malla points out, there are several challenges even today. The abortion bill was introduced as an exemption clause in the homicide law. Activists are now working to weave in a rights based approach to the law. Even as they are working to change policies, civil societies are working towards better access to safe abortion.
Watch Part 3 of our video series to learn more.