Crying need

Although abortion was legalised in 2002, safe abortion facilities are beyond the reach of rural women across the 75 districts. A survey conducted by the Nepal Family Planning Association, Kaski, reveals that 10.8 per cent opted for abortion in 2005 out of the total of around 9.26 lakh women who conceive every year in Nepal. Legally, a 12-week pregnant woman is allowed to undergo abortion of her own volition. However, those who conceive through rape or incest can abort even after 18 weeks into pregnancy, which, it may be argued, is tantamount to denying the unborn the right to life, and on this reckoning, it may well be questioned, whether the time allowed for the latter category is not too expansive.

All women are not lucky enough to deliver under the safe hands of midwives or health assistants. Yet, more worrisome is their falling into the hands of quacks who perform abortion in a highly risky manner as they do not possess the required technical skill. There is a crying need to disseminate information on reproductive health, dangers of unsafe practices and that delay in decision-making can complicate abortion and endanger at least two precious lives in the process. Abortion means terminating unwanted pregnancies, but it is much wiser to take preventive measures, which are not only inexpensive but also completely safe. Making the services systematic and easily available in government hospitals, and taking strict action against unregistered clinics or illegal practitioners can go a long way in avoiding the unpleasant consequences of unsafe abortions.