Shanti, a mother of three, was four-months pregnant when she took medication to cure a migraine. She recognized instantly that something had gone wrong. With her husband at work and her children at school, Shanti found herself alone; drenched in blood, she enlisted the help of her landlady who brought her to the hospital. What Shanti did not realize was that the landlady had also reported her to the police — as owner of the property, she was required to under law. Shanti was arrested on her sickbed under suspicion of inducing an abortion and was sentenced to 20 years in jail. Finally freed after reform of the abortion law, Shanti said, “I thought I was going to rot in jail. I never thought I would be released.”
Since 2002, abortion has been legally permitted in Nepal during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy or up to 18 weeks in cases of rape, incest, fetal malformation or when the woman’s life is endangered. Since the abortion ban was overturned, Nepal’s maternal mortality ratio has shown evidence of decline; however, reducing women’s risk of death and injury from unsafe abortion remains a top priority. As Nepal expands women’s rights, Ipas will continue working to ensure that abortion is safe and accessible for every woman. Ipas Nepal works to increase public awareness, train and educate current and future abortion providers, and make safe abortion services available in the NGO, public and private sectors throughout the country. This includes work with the Nepali Ministry of Health, Family Health Division to increase the availability of second-trimester services.