Health policy

The provisions given by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to physicians on abortion are: the Penal Code; Guardianship of Infants Act; Child Act; religious fatwa; Code of Professional Conduct; and medical ethics which stipulate beneficence, non-malfeasance, respect for autonomy, and justice. All of these are meant to help medical practitioners in their decision-making.

As of June 2010, there is currently a committee working within the MOH to set up guidelines on abortion. The issues that will be addressed are:

  • evidence-based policies on indications and contraindications for performing abortions;
  • clear gestational limits;
  • facilities and practitioners;
  • procedures, such as consent requirements;
  • quality of care;
  • standardization, e.g. if one or two practitioners are required, or with a psychiatrist;
  • counseling and waiting period requirements, which are tight even in liberal countries, stipulating that counseling has to be from a doctor, with a six-day waiting period aimed at discouraging abortion and changing the mind of the client; and
  • right to information, i.e. client’s right to informed choice, but not the right to information about abortion or contraception.

The religious fatwa permits abortion as part of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services.

What is the Ministry of Health’s policy on elective abortions in government hospitals?
If there is a legal basis for the abortion, the service should be provided, assuming parental consent has been given for minors. However, some hospitals do not provide this service due to misconceptions about the law or biases of doctors themselves.