by MSI REPRODUCTIVE CHOICES
Over the last 30 years, 59 countries have relaxed abortion restrictions. This includes 18 countries that have overturned complete bans on abortion. In stark contrast, with Roe v. Wade overturned, the U.S. joins the ranks of only three other countries to have restricted access in that time: Poland, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
So, while the news from the U.S. is cause for alarm, it also reminds us of how far we’ve come, and why we cannot turn back the clock in countries that have liberalized abortion. The following stories of abortion providers in Cambodia, Ethiopia and Nepal of life before their countries legalized abortion show the U.S. how restricting abortion rights can endanger women’s lives.
Gaps in Access and Equity Pose Challenges to Reproductive Rights
Shivani Mishra, Associate, Women's Rights Division
June 13, 2022
Following the deaths of countless women who had undergone unsafe abortions, Nepal legalized the procedure in 2002. In 2018, Nepal’s government went further to protect women, enacting legislation that recognizes seeking abortion as a fundamental human right. But more needs to be done to expand safe abortion access across the country.
Nepal’s abortion law permits women to seek abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks of gestation, and up to 28 weeks in cases of rape or incest. Abortion is also legal up to 28 weeks of the pregnancy if a licensed medical practitioner identifies a risk to the woman’s mental or physical health or if the fetus is “likely to become non-viable.”
By Ram Kumar Kamat
Apr 03, 2022
KATHMANDU, APRIL 2 - Even one year after Nepal accepted the Human Rights Council's universal periodic review recommendation that it should decriminalise abortion, the government has not taken any concrete steps to amend the prevailing laws that criminalise abortion.
In 2018, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women Committee had also recommended that Nepal fully decriminalise abortion in all cases and legalise it at least in the cases of health complications of the mother.
Half of the 1.2 million pregnancies in the country were unintended and nearly 359,000 ended in abortion in 2017.
March 31, 2022
Nearly half of the pregnancies in Nepal are unintended and close to two-thirds of them ended in abortion, according to a recent report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The UNFPA’s “State of World Population 2022” report titled, “Seeing the Unseen”, says half of the 1.2 million pregnancies in 2017 in Nepal were unintended and nearly 359,000 were aborted.
By Himalayan News Service
Mar 06, 2022
Women rights activists have said that Nepal
needs to invest adequate resources to provide safe abortion services and other
reproductive rights services to women.
Addressing a programme 'F for Feminism' organised by Forum for Women, Law and
Development, Deputy Country Director of Ipas Nepal Jagadishwar Ghimire said it
was bizarre that even 20 years after safe abortion was legalised by the
country, 58 per cent women were undergoing unsafe abortion. "This means
that Nepal needs to overcome many challenges to enable women to enjoy their
reproductive rights guaranteed by the constitution,"
Despite a wealth of research that shows medical abortion at home is effective, safe, acceptable and improves access to care, 19 U.S. states are introducing laws to block access to the medication.
by SARAH SHAW, Ms. Magazine
At the end of 2021, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) announced it would permanently ease federal restrictions on abortion pills. They’re allowing these drugs to be sent by mail, after a medical consultation by phone rather than requiring an in-person visit. The change has been welcomed by healthcare providers who point to the importance of providing women with safe methods in the fight to eliminate unsafe abortion and related deaths and injury.
Along with the need to overcome obstacles created by COVID-19, so that women can safely exercise their right to choose even during the pandemic, supporters also point to the sharp increase in gender-based violence during the pandemic—with many women unable to leave their homes—as another reason why medical abortion at home is so important.
By Himalayan News Service
Jan 22, 2022
Twenty-six-year-old Kali Thapa of Badimalika Municipality, Bajura, has been battling for life because of unsafe abortion. Having taken medicine for abortion from a medical shop in the district headquarters, Martadi, she has been struggling for life in Seti Zonal Hospital for want of blood.
Having suffered from excessive bleeding after taking the abortion-inducing drug, her kin had taken Kali to the district hospital. According to the hospital's information officer Nriparaj Giri, after it was found that she was suffering from excessive bleeding and her haemoglobin level was low, she was transferred to Bayalpata Hospital, Achham.
Abortion pills are already saving lives in Nepal – and represent a potential health revolution for women worldwide
By Jennifer Rigby and Simon Townsley
14 January 2022
Every morning, Pragati Soti Khanal packs her huge grey and blue rucksack, ready to trek through Nepal’s famous mountains.
But she is not packing crampons and climbing ropes. Instead, in go scales, vast bottles of hand sanitiser, assorted medical instruments and a plastic box filled with pill packets.
RASTRIYA SAMACHAR SAMITI, Nepalnews
2021 DEC 26
COVID-19 is taking its toll on sexual and reproductive health in the country. The global pandemic has thrown up challenges to the government's goals of reducing maternal and child mortality rate while unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion have increased due to lack of access to contraceptives and safe abortion services, according to the Department of Health Services under the Family Welfare Division.
The use of contraceptives has dropped to 39.37 per cent during the pandemic. One hundred thirty-four new mothers and pregnant women lost their lives during the infection between March 24 and July 21, 2020, when the country was in lockdown and the number of women who availed safe abortion service during the same period was less than 15,000, according to the Department. Lack of transportation and qualified health workers, excessive bleeding, abortion and labour complication as well as delivery at home were among the factors that led to their death.
Mara Malagodi, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Law
November 10, 2021
Recent legal changes in a number of jurisdictions that have entirely decriminalised abortion are steeped in the language of gender constitutionalism and human rights – whether these changes have taken place via constitutional litigation or statutory reform. As a result, the campaigns for complete decriminalisation in other jurisdictions have now begun to engage in a pragmatic comparative law exercise to advance their cause. Activists deploy the legal arguments and strategies marshalled in those jurisdictions that have completely removed abortion from the purview of their criminal laws alongside domestic constitutional principles and international human rights standards. As such, we are witnessing a global cross-pollination of legal ideas anchored in substantive notions of gender equality and human dignity to challenge legal restrictions to women’s bodily autonomy.
Abortion is the only medical procedure that continues to be consistently treated as a crime around the world. Even those jurisdictions that have partially liberalised their legal regimes continue to criminalise abortion outside of the terms explicitly provided by law. Only a handful of jurisdictions such as China (1979 – excluding Hong Kong and Macau), Canada (1988), Northern Ireland (2019), New Zealand (2020), and Australia (2021), have entirely removed abortion from the purview of their penal laws. Canada did so via constitutional litigation, while the other jurisdictions via statutory reform.