UAE changes abortion law in rape, incest cases

Estimated read time 3 min read

Picture for illustrative purposes only. ARCHIVE

The UAE Government has issued new directives allowing abortion in cases where pregnancy was a result of rape or incest.

The new directives are the latest changes to the country’s abortion laws. Under the Cabinet resolution, abortion is allowed “if the pregnancy is the result of intercourse with a female against her will, without her consent, or without adequate volition” and “if the person who caused the pregnancy is an ancestor of the woman or one of her mahram [ineligible for marriage] relatives”. The Cabinet resolution will come into effect once published in the UAE’s Official Gazette.

The revised law applies to residents who have been in the UAE for at least a year, with certain conditions to be met before abortion can be carried out.

Under the law, rape or incest must be immediately reported to authorities and proven by an official report from the Public Prosecution.

For abortion to be legal in the case of rape or incest, the foetus must be less than 120 days old at the time of the abortion procedure, according to the resolution. The abortion should be free of any medical complications that may put the woman’s life at high risk.

Currently, the UAE law already allows abortions in pregnancies where the mother’s life is in danger, or if there is serious deformity of the foetus that affects its life and health after birth.

Last October, the UAE also revised its laws to allow women to undergo emergency abortions without their husband’s consent if the pregnancy puts their life or their unborn child’s life at risk. Doctors may also step in to perform abortion in emergency cases where the life of the mother or her unborn child is in immediate danger.

Earlier in June, the Ministry of Health and Prevention issued new protocols to regulate abortion cases in the UAE. Under the new rules, the decision on abortion requests shall be made by a dedicated committee that will be formed within each health authority, by the health minister or the head of an emirate’s health authority.

The committee should comprise three doctors: an obstetrics and gynaecology specialist, a psychiatry specialist and a representative of the public prosecution.

Abortions must only be done in a licensed healthcare facility and by a licensed specialist obstetrician-gynecologist. Women must also under medical and social counselling before and after abortion. ICA/Expat Media


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