Selected news stories from the international press relating to Asian (In)Fertilities:
Children by choice, not by chance - Guardian International development journalism competition
(21 November 2009)
NEPAL: Malati tells me how her mother died. "She had 11 children," she says. "When she became pregnant the 12th time she ground glass into honey and ate it. When she became pregnant the 13th time she did the same. When she became pregnant the 14th time, she did the same, but that time it killed her."
Before legalisation in 2002, Nepal had one of the strictest abortion laws in the world. Women like Malati's mother risked both their lives and their freedom; hundreds of women were imprisoned for abortion-related crimes. According to the WHO, unsafe abortions contribute to 13% of maternal deaths around the world. Before 2002, unsafe abortions contributed to 50% of maternal deaths in Nepal. Abortion services are now available in 224 officially registered clinics and hospitals across the country. The government and Marie Stopes International (through SPN) have trained more than 500 doctors in safe abortion techniques. Between 2004 and 2007 nearly 150,000 women received safe, legal abortions. "But there is still some way to go," says Dr Indira Basnett, Nepal's country project manager of reproductive health organisation Ipas. "A study last year found that 80% of rural women do not know abortion is legal. Of those that do, 30% cannot distinguish between legal and illegal practitioners." "Women need to know they can have children by choice, not chance," says Kamala Thapa of SPN. "We are spreading the word that when they walk through the bright blue door of one of our clinics they will be welcomed with care and respect. If a woman wants an abortion that is her wish, her will, her need."