October 10, 2020
The news of “demand for abortion pills rise in Thimphu” in Kuensel this week deserves our attention. The horrifying stories of abandonment of human fetuses and informal reports of unsafe abortions taking place across the border are sadly not uncommon in Bhutan. The issue of abortion is sensitive and controversial because the very nature of abortion is emotional, often against one’s social values and spiritual beliefs. It is also of moral and ethical dilemma among physicians.
Section 146 of the Penal Code of Bhutan (PCB), 2004, criminalizes abortion except when the mother’s life is in danger or of unsound mental condition or when pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. This provision is discriminatory itself as abortion is a crime only if certain criteria are not met violating the rights of both the mother and fetus.