whatsappicon

Abortion Now Allowed in Cases of Rape & Incest: All You Need to Know About UAE’s New Law

The allows for abortions in a broader range of circumstances compared to previous regulations

Owner's Profile

Pavitra Shetty

Published on June 26, 2024, 08:07:46

198

abortion in uae

 

A recent cabinet resolution in the UAE has expanded the circumstances under which abortion is permitted, aiming to curb unsafe practices associated with terminating unwanted pregnancies. The new law specifies that abortions can now be performed in five instances.

According to the resolution, a licensed physician may conduct the procedure if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or if it is at the request of spouses following approval by a designated committee.

Details regarding the specific nature of the requests from spouses have not been disclosed in the resolution. Additionally, non-consensual intercourse or pregnancy involving a person from the woman's lineage or relatives are now recognised grounds for abortion. This decision, along with existing provisions in the Medical Liability Law, allows for abortions in a broader range of circumstances compared to previous regulations.

Previously, abortions were only permitted if the pregnancy endangered the woman's life or if foetal abnormalities were detected. "This legislative reform marks a critical development in the UAE's legal approach to women's rights, extending access to safe abortions under specified conditions and aligning with international legal standards," says Ayushi Tripathi, Legal Associate at Dubai-based NYK Law Firm.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has outlined that parental or guardian consent will not be required in emergency cases necessitating immediate surgical intervention. A committee within each health authority, comprising specialists in obstetrics/gynaecology, psychiatry, and a representative of the Public Prosecution, will oversee and approve such requests.

"It demonstrates the nation's commitment to gender equality and sets a precedent for progressive legal reforms within the region," she adds.

Key Conditions

  • A licensed specialist obstetrician-gynaecologist in the UAE can perform abortions at authorised healthcare facilities, subject to specific conditions.
  • Before and after the procedure, women must receive medical and social counselling as mandated by the resolution.
  • Abortions are permissible only if they do not pose a risk to the pregnant woman's life due to medical complications.
  • The procedure must be performed within 120 days of pregnancy duration.

International Standards

The UAE's approach to reproductive rights aligns with international standards by considering the physical and mental health of women in addition to cases of rape and incest. It is part of broader efforts to modernise the legal framework, promoting gender equality and improving protections against domestic violence and discrimination.

The reform applies uniformly to Emirati citizens and expatriates residing legally in the UAE for at least one year. This development will have a positive impact on women's rights and contribute to a more inclusive legal environment in the UAE.

The establishment of a committee within each health authority, comprising specialists in obstetrics/gynaecology, psychiatry, and a representative from the Public Prosecution, underscores the government's commitment to ensuring the procedure is conducted responsibly and in line with legal requirements.

As the UAE continues its path of legal reform, including advancements in family court procedures and women's social and economic rights, experts anticipate further improvements in gender equality and healthcare access.

The new resolution marks a significant step forward in the UAE's efforts to protect women's health and rights, setting a precedent for other nations in the region to consider similar reforms in the future. The law applies to both Emiratis and expatriates; non-Emirati residents must have legally resided in the UAE for at least one year before requesting an abortion.

When is Abortion Allowed?

Abortions are permitted in the following circumstances:

  • Sexual Assault: If the pregnancy is the result of sexual intercourse against the woman’s will or without her consent.
  • Incest: If the pregnancy is a result of incest, involving a person from the woman's lineage or relatives.
  • Spousal Request: At the request of spouses, subject to approval by a dedicated committee.
  • Risk to Life: If continuing the pregnancy poses a risk to the pregnant woman's life.
  • Foetal Deformation: If severe foetal deformation that could impact the newborn’s health and life is diagnosed.

Conditions for the Procedure

The pregnancy must not exceed 120 days, and there should be no medical complications endangering the life of the pregnant woman.

Regulatory Committee

Decisions regarding abortion requests will be made by a committee formed by the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) or the head of an emirate's health authority. The committee comprises:

  • An obstetrics and gynaecology specialist
  • A psychiatry specialist
  • A representative from the Public Prosecution

Process and Appeals

The committee may request additional documents and expert opinions, issuing a decision within five working days. If the decision is contested, appeals can be made by the pregnant woman, her husband, or guardian within the same timeframe. The final decision, binding for all parties, will be issued by the Minister or Head of the health authority.

Where and How the Procedure Must Be Performed?

Abortion procedures must be performed at licensed healthcare facilities by specialist obstetrician-gynaecologists. The facility must document the case thoroughly, including the pregnancy duration, reasons for abortion, necessary approvals, and procedures undertaken. Medical and social counselling is mandatory before and after the procedure.

Consent Requirements

Written consent from the pregnant woman is mandatory, unless in cases of emergency where consent is implied. In situations where the woman cannot provide consent, approval from her husband or guardian is required.

Expat Requirements

Non-citizen women seeking abortion must have held a valid UAE residency permit for at least one year before submitting the request.

These regulations mark a significant step in the UAE’s approach to reproductive health, aiming to provide clarity and legal safeguards while addressing sensitive medical and ethical considerations. For more information, individuals are encouraged to consult with healthcare providers and legal authorities to understand their rights and responsibilities under the new law.

"This new reform represents a pivotal moment in the UAE's approach to women's rights, expanding access to safe abortions in critical circumstances and aligning with international standards. It underscores the country's commitment to gender equality and sets a precedent for progressive legal frameworks in the region," concludes Ayushi.

For any enquiries or information, contact ask@tlr.ae or call us on +971 52 644 3004Follow The Law Reporters on WhatsApp Channels.

Comments

    whatsappicon