ABORTION IS BOOMING AS AN INDUSTRY IN NEPAL
For the first time in Nepal, abortion has been conditionally liberalized in September, 2002 after a prolonged period of advocacy by various Governmental, non-governmental and professional organizations. Since then it has grown as a large unregulated cash industry that exploits a crisis situation to thrive financially. After legalization, clinics and abortion centers -authorized or otherwise – have mushroomed everywhere in Nepal and they are building a lucrative, booming business on money earned at the expense of lives that are snuffed out before they get a chance to breathe.
Abortion Legal Framework in Nepal
According to the abortion law in Nepal, women can acquire abortion for pregnancies up to 12 weeks of conception and up to 18 weeks if the pregnancy has resulted from rape or incest. The law also dictates that the pregnancy can be terminated at any time with the help of medical practitioner if the mental and physical health of the pregnant woman is at risk or if the fetus is deformed or would cause health risks to the mother and child. Sex selective abortion and abortion without the approval of the pregnant woman is punishable under the legal frame.
Reality is very different picture.
Abortion number in Nepal is growing very rapidly and unexpectedly. Married couples treating abortion like a means of birth control. A doctor states, “One woman underwent abortion 8 times in my private clinic”. Likewise, repeated abortion is growing alarmingly in Nepal. There are growing reports of extramarital affairs when the husband is away for years, leading to abortions. Abortion among unmarried women and teenagers is increasing along with sex selective abortion. Even married couples are casually turning to abortion when the fetus is found to be a female. Such a callous and heartless practice threatens moral fabric of society, while actually triggering massive challenge of gender imbalance. Today, abortion can be carried out at the drop of a hat. And the service providers legally authorized or otherwise are available in the ration of a dime a dozen. That’s because of the big bucks that can be made. Government hospitals perform abortion up to two and a half-months of conception and charge upwards of 1,200, but most polyclinics and private clinics in Nepal charge anything from Rs.5,000 and above for 13 weeks and thereafter depending on the ultrasound tests. The most tragic thing is many Nepalese women are uninformed about the reality and harsh truth about abortion and the possibility of post procedure complications. Many Nepalese women and young ladies have suffered from different kinds of reproductive health problems as a result of earlier abortion – before those complications. Abortion has completely failed as a social policy designed to aid women in Nepal. (Sources: The Himalayan times, PERSPECTIVE -Sunday, February 27, 2010)
FACTS AND FIGURES
800,000 – Nepali women get pregnant every year
200,000- Nepali women define their pregnancies as unwanted, unplanned, unintended, or unexpected.
120,000- Nepal women go to non-listed service provider clinics, Pharmacies, health centers, hospitals and health posts for the purpose of abortion.
80,000- Nepali women go to listed service providers: hospitals, abortion centers and clinics for abortion.
(Source: Voice of Fetus, Nepal)
Who will speak?
Abortion in Nepal is considered as an essential part of women’s right. Therefore the right to abort may be a symbol of their empowered status. But who will speak for the unborn baby’s right to live? That voice will not come from the abortion clinics who are building an industry on ‘blood money’.