Abortion law in Nepal: Know the line between the legal and the illegal

Nepal has guaranteed rights relating to reproductive health as a fundamental right in article 38 (2) of the Constitution of Nepal, 2015. Furthermore, the Supreme Court has set a precedent over a decade ago, clearly defining abortion as an integral aspect of reproductive health rights and women’s human rights.

Therefore, the National Penal Code, 2017,  as mentioned below, provides conditions and restrictions related to abortion laws.

Conditions for abortion

Abortion can be done in the following circumstances:

The pregnancy of up to 12 weeks can be terminated with the consent of the pregnant woman
The pregnancy of up to 28 weeks can be terminated with the consent of the pregnant woman, upon the opinion of a licensed doctor that her life may be in danger or her physical or mental health may deteriorate or a handicapped child will born if pregnancy is not terminated
The pregnancy of up to 28 weeks conceived from rape or incest can be terminated with the consent of the pregnant woman
The pregnancy of up to 28 weeks of a woman with human immune-deficiency virus (HIV) or other incurable disease of similar nature can be terminated with her consent.

Prohibitions of abortion

In other conditions, no person shall commit abortion or do any act with intent to cause abortion with the knowledge that, or having a reason to believe that such an act is likely to cause abortion. Further, no person shall cause a pregnant woman to abort, by coercing, threatening, alluring or inducing her to so abort.

Any person who commits the offence referred above shall be liable to:

  • A sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year and a fine not exceeding Rs 10,000 in the case of pregnancy of up to 12 weeks
  • A sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years and a fine not exceeding Rs 30,000 in the case of pregnancy between 12 and 25 weeks
  • A sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years and a fine not exceeding Rs 50,000 in the case of pregnancy of more than 25 weeks

In addition to this, if the pregnancy is not terminated with attempts of abortion and the child is born alive but dies immediately after birth as the consequence of such act shall, such act shall be deemed to constitute the offence of abortion.

More on punishment, if any act done by a person with premeditation against a pregnant woman causes abortion (in other words, if that person plans or conspires to abort), that person shall be liable to the following punishment despite that he or she has not done such act with the intention of causing abortion:

  • A sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year in the case of pregnancy of up to 12 weeks
  • A sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years in the case of pregnancy between 12 and 25 months
  • A sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years in the case of pregnancy of more than 25 weeks