To mark International Safe Abortion Day, which falls on 28 September every year, She Decides Nepal is hosting a Zoom Open House from 10 am to 12 pm today.

The event will comprise musical performance, live art sessions, and case stories presentation, among other things, all aimed at raising awareness and openly discuss about experiences related to safe abortion.

Though abortion is legal in Nepal under National Safe Abortion Service Policy 2004, there are various hurdles that prevent pregnant women from seeking legal and safe abortion services. Generating awareness as well as talking openly about it could help spread the word.

After the legalization of abortion in September 2002, Nepal passed the procedural order in 2003, giving way to the first ever Comprehensive Abortion Care Service to be disseminated from the Kathmandu-based Maternity Hospital in March 2004. The law grants women the right to a legal abortion on the following grounds:

  • Up to 12 weeks of gestation for any woman;
  • Up to 18 weeks of gestation in case of rape or incest
  • 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.

According to Nepal’s 2011 Demographic and Health Survey, only 38% of women of reproductive age were aware of the legal status of abortion. Awareness of legal abortion was inversely related to wealth, with only 22% of women in the lowest wealth quintile recognizing the legal status of abortion.

Abortion is a still a sensitive topic in Nepal as it is plagued with taboos, mostly due to lack of open discussion about it.

Moreover, during the current pandemic, International Safe Abortion Day is a timely reminder that access to legal and safe abortion is fundamental to every person’s right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health.

Access to modern contraception and comprehensive abortion care are crucial to avoid an increase in unintended pregnancies and subsequent unsafe abortions. These services are essential health services and human rights.

Awareness and health literacy are vital in order to make the services accessible to people of all strata.

In Nepal, comprehensive abortion care, including manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) and medical abortion (MA) services are available in all 75 district hospitals and at over 50 percent of Public Health Care Centers, Ipas Nepal, Marie Stopes, and Safe Abortion Service for a minimum cost.