Monday, August 8, 2016 | News

Nepal parliament ensures free abortion services for all women

On August 8th, the parliament of Nepal voted to approve its FY17 budget, which for the first time includes funding for safe abortion care. The funding ensures implementation of a key provision of a 2009 court decision guaranteeing access to services for all women of Nepal.

“This budget allocation represents a significant step forward in our
government’s efforts to guarantee women’s reproductive rights and their
ability to obtain fundamental health-care services”, said Hon. Arzu Rana
Deuba, member of Parliament and member of Ipas’s global Board of
Directors. “We in Parliament should feel proud that we have finally made
this commitment a reality for the women and girls of Nepal.”

Safe abortion care has been available in Nepal since 2002, when a
sweeping change to the criminal code recognized a broad range of women’s
rights. The government program is a model for much of the world,
offering hospital-based care in all 75 districts, and reaching even the
most rural women through community-based care in 19 districts. In recent
years the program has expanded to include second-trimester abortion in
25 hospitals, guaranteeing that women and girls at risk of dangerous
unsafe procedures can obtain safe care. Although they represent a tiny
proportion of abortions overall, abortions in the second trimester are
associated with the highest rates of complications and deaths globally
because safe services are so rarely available.

“Under the leadership of Dr. R.P. Bichha, director of the Family Health
Division, Department of Health Services,  Ministry of Health, the safe
abortion program of the government of Nepal as achieved more than we
thought possible,” said Dirgha Raj Shrestha, Acting country director of
Ipas Nepal. “Ensuring that services will now be free represents yet
another step forward in support of women’s health in this country.”

Prior to 2002, 20 percent of women in prison were there for having terminated pregnancies under the country’s restrictive law and unsafe abortion was a major cause of maternal death.

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