I Need to Terminate This Pregnancy Even If It Will Take My Life: Effect of Being Denied Legal Abortion on Women's Lives in Nepal

Mahesh Puri, Center for Research on Environment Health and Population Activities (CREHPA)
Divya Vohra, University of California, Berkeley
Diana G. Foster, University of California, San Francisco

Although abortion was legalized in Nepal in 2002, many women are not able to access legal services. Among 311 women seeking abortion services from two health centers, 26% did not receive the abortions they were seeking; 14% were turned away for advanced gestational age and12% for other reasons. We conducted interviews with 25 women two months after abortion denial. Half (12) were continuing their pregnancies, 12 illegally terminated their pregnancies and one self-induced using medication. Most women who continued their pregnancy anticipated negative consequences for their health, family relationships and wellbeing. Not recognizing pregnancy, uncertainty about how to proceed, needing time to coordinate the trip to the facility or raise money, and waiting to know the sex of fetus were the commonly cited delays. Barriers for seeking early abortion need to be addressed to reduce utilization of illegal abortion services and to improve women's health and wellbeing in Nepal.

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Presented in Session 38: The Persistence of Unsafe Abortion