Nepal’s Well Fought Legal Battle For Safe Abortion And Women’s Rights

Shreejana Bhajracharya is one of ASAP’s Youth Champion. She also works with IPas Nepal. Shreejana recently participated in ASAP’s mentoring programme and started her own blog. We are proud to present an article she wrote for Aug 12, 2013 — The International Youth Day.

Whenever I represent Nepal as youth delegate in any conference or workshop, I always share the great achievement Nepal’s government made in Women’s Health i.e. legalizing abortion. For many years, women in Nepal had experienced strictest abortion laws in the world. Do you know once in Nepal to end unwanted pregnancies, women endured illegal and unsafe abortions and sentenced lengthy prison for abortion-related “CRIMES.” At that time Nepal had one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Asia and there were more visits in health facilities for abortion related complications.

Well Nepal government then made a remarkable change in law by legalizing abortion and offering abortion services in public hospitals in 2002. Three cheers for this as women got safe choice to end unintended pregnancies in safe sites. The law has granted women the right to control their bodies and  make decisions about their unintended pregnancies.

Abortion is legal in Nepal on the following grounds:

  • Up to 12 weeks of gestation for any women,
  • Up to 18 weeks of gestation if pregnancy results from rape or incest, and
  • At any time during pregnancy, with the advice of a medical practitioner or if the physical or mental health or life of the pregnant woman is at risk or if the fetus is deformed and incompatible with life

Abortion is punishable on the following conditions:

  • Sex selective abortion, and
  • Abortion without the consent of the pregnant woman

Now I am proud to say that Nepal had won MDG 5 award as Nepal dramatically reduced the MMR hovering around 539 per 10,000 live births in 2001 to 289 in 2006 and 281 in 2008 and the contribution also goes to legalization of Abortion in Nepal in 2002.

For young women below 16 years have one condition for seeking safe abortion service. The law says young women below 16 years old need consent from guardian. Guardian has been described as not compulsorily parents; it might be sisters, brothers, uncle, aunts and a friend above 16 years. Even a service provider could be guardian if necessary.

Nepal believes “No women should return without safe abortion service if she needs.”

Likewise, The Nepal National Abortion Policy 2002 that brought into practice by the government guarantees access to safe and affordable abortion services to every woman without discrimination, while Safe Abortion Service Procedure 2003 defines clinical procedures for safe pregnancy termination, service provision facilities, client consent and lays down criteria for listing a health institution as Comprehensive Abortion Care (CAC) center.

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About Shreejana Bajracharya

Shreejana Bhajracharya is oen of ASAP's Youth Champions in Nepal. A feminist and a strong human rights activist, Shreejana uses her creativity to conductive online and offline campaigns to promote SRHR in Nepal. She is very committed to the cause of promoting safe abortion rights.
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