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Ten years of legal abortion has saved thousands of lives, Nepal

Date: 13 March 2012
Source: Himalayan Times

A government/UNICEF study estimated that 20% of all pregnancy deaths in 2000 were due to unsafe abortion. Following sustained campaigning and with government support, abortion became a safe and legal choice for women in Nepal in March 2002. A decade of legalisation of safe abortion has saved the lives of thousands of women. Abortion is free on request up to 12 weeks and allowed up to 18 weeks if the woman's life is in danger and in cases of rape and incest, when carried out at hospitals or clinics run by health ministry certified doctors.

Before 2002, a woman suspected of undergoing abortion could be jailed. About half of gynaecological admissions to hospital were due to backstreet abortions. Since that time, not a single woman has been imprisoned for abortion and unsafe abortions are significantly down.

In the past ten years a reported 500,000 women have received legal abortion services, according to the safe abortion programme at the Family Health Division of the Health Ministry. The rate of complications has been low - around 2% according to one 2008 survey. There are more than 500 public and private clinics and 1,322 service providers have been trained.