The Government of Nepal has finally decided to decriminalize abortion and will strive to protect sexual and reproductive health of women and girls in the nation.
This decision of the government can be seen as a culmination of years of advocacy by women rights groups in the country.
The move was initiated by Center for Reproductive Rights and its Nepal-based partners who prepared a compliance report for Universal Periodic Review which is a comprehensive human rights review for each country which takes place before the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC).
The main focus of this compliance report was on existing barriers in access to safe abortion services in Nepal and how it negatively impacts the sexual and reproductive health of women.
France which is one of the member states of the UN reviewed the compliance report and suggested the Nepal Government to decriminalize abortion to improve sexual and reproductive health of women.
The Government of Nepal accepted the recommendations made by France on 6th August 2021 and this move will uphold the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Nepalese women to live with dignity, safe motherhood and reproductive health.
The Constitution of Nepal which was adopted in 2015 classifies right to safe motherhood and reproductive health as fundamental rights and the 2018 Self Motherhood and Reproductive Health Rights Act was also passed to recognize the practice of abortion.
However, the Penal Code of Nepal continues to have a provision which allows prosecution in case of abortion. Moreover, the 2018 legislation defines abortion as “a spontaneous termination of the fetus from the uterus before it becomes capable of natural birth.”
As a result of this definition even accidental and natural miscarriage which take place without a third- party intervention come under the purview of abortion thereby attracting penal provisions.
Therefore, despite a progressive constitution the countr