One Year Later: Celebrating Nepal’s Comprehensive Abortion Law

One year ago today, May 20, 2010, the Nepal Supreme Court ordered the government of Nepal to enact a comprehensive abortion law guaranteeing that all women have safe and affordable access to legal abortion services and to establish a government fund to cover the cost of abortion services for poor women.

This ruling is a great victory for the advancement and protection of the reproductive rights of Nepali women. It was issued in the case Lakshmi Dhikta v. Nepal filed by several individuals and non-governmental organizations including the Forum for Women, Law, and Development (FWLD), with the Center's support.

The Lakshmi Dhikta case centers on a mother of five children, who, when she became pregnant for the sixth time, attempted to get an abortion but was unable to due to lack of funds. She was forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.

Lakshmi Dhikta was filed as a public interest case in February 2007 to draw the government's attention to barriers that have prevented women from exercising their right to abortion -- a right guaranteed by the amended law, and under the Interim Constitution of 2007 which recognizes women's reproductive rights as fundamental rights.

As the lives and health of women in Nepal continue to be threatened unnecessarily by inadequate access to safe and affordable abortion services, the Center would like to recognize the first anniversary of this groundbreaking decision and applaud the Supreme Court for issuing a monumental decision. We urge the Court to publish its full decision soon, so that it may be implemented to prevent any further forced pregnancies and deaths due to the unavailability of safe and affordable abortion services.