The Supreme Court of Nepal ruled yesterday that the Nepalese government must enact legislation that guarantees women’s access to safe abortion services. The ruling requires the government to create a fund that will cover the costs of abortion services for poor women and to educate health providers and the public on the country’s abortion laws.
Melissa Upreti, who specializes in Asia for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a press release: “This is one of the most important legal victories for women in Nepal in almost a decade….Thousands of women in Nepal either die or suffer health complications every year from unsafe abortion. Many are forced to suffer in silence due to their inability to pay for safe services or the lack of information. This decision shows that protecting women’s health and lives means more than just keeping reproductive health services legal – it means ensuring that those services are in fact available to everyone who needs them.”
Abortion became legal in Nepal in 2002 and is now legal during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and up to 18 weeks in cases of rape, incest, fetal impairment or to protect a woman’s health. Prior to passage of the 2002 law, it was common for women to be imprisoned for abortion-related offenses.