Abortion Laws in Afghanistan
Chapter four in the Afghanistan Penal Code is dedicated to abortion. Article 402 in the penal code states that a person who intentionally kills or aborts a human fetus by any means shall be sentenced to prison for no more than seven years. Article 403 states that a person that causes the abortion even with the consent of the pregnant woman will be sentenced to either prison or will receive a fine of at least twelve thousand Afghanis. If the person administering the abortion is a doctor they will receive maximum punishment for their crime. The one exception to all of these laws and fines is if the pregnant woman or the baby’s life is in jeopardy and they abort the child to save a life, there will be no punishment. In Afghanistan it is only legal to abort a child if a life usually the mother’s is directly in danger due to the pregnancy. It is also illegal to abort the baby if the child was a result of rape or incest. In order to legally abort a child due to a health risk the mother must meet with a gynecologist and three general practitioners, and have a counselling session. Not only this but the mother also needs permission from a doctor and so does the council of religious scholars. Abortion is only accepted in Afghanistan for extreme cases.
Abortion in Afghanistan
Afghanistan has the highest birthrate in all of Asia. Most women in Afghanistan have on average six children throughout their lives. A large family is a norm and insures that some boy will be able to carry on and honor the family name. In a country like Afghanistan that has a tremendously high maternal mortality rate (second highest in the world) this can be a dangerous and scary threat to women. Women may want to abort their child due to economic reasons. A family may also seek out abortion methods if the child would dishonor the family. A child that is born out of wedlock, or without the fathers presence would act as a death sentence for the family, they would be in danger of honor killings. In Lina’s story, she was pregnant with her husband’s child. Lina’s husband was imprisoned after being accused of being involved in some sort of attack. Lina’s family felt ashamed and told her that she needed to abort the child or dishonor would be brought upon her family.
Lack of Knowledge
Afghanistan lacks the education that women need to find out about birth control. Right now Afghanistan considers birth control as a type of taboo. About 79 percent of women in Afghanistan do not use birth control, explaining their high birthrate. Abortion is the only form of birth control that Afghani women know, stated by the World Health Organization. Due to the fact that abortion is illegal there is a lack of knowledge when it comes to performing abortions. One option is for the pregnant woman to get some pills from a doctor if she has the money or the means to do so. The other method women use is a traditional midwife, many who are not trained well. Performing an abortion with little knowledge is very dangerous and can lead to complications throughout the procedure. Women in Afghanistan need to be educated in birth control methods so they do not have to resort to an illegal and dangerous abortion.