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You Can Now Get An Abortion in The UAE Under Certain Conditions

A landmark legal reform

The UAE has introduced a new resolution permitting abortions in specific circumstances. Under the new law, abortion is allowed for victims of rape and incest. The resolution states that abortion is permitted “if the pregnancy is the result of intercourse with a female against her will, without her consent, or without adequate volition” or “if the person who caused the pregnancy is an ancestor of the woman or one of her mahram [ineligible for marriage] relatives.” Such cases must be reported immediately and proven by a report from the Public Prosecution. The decision marks a significant milestone in the UAE’s evolving abortion laws, with experts stating that it will enhance the health and safety of women living in the Emirates.

Previously, UAE law only permitted abortion in cases where the mother’s life was at risk or if the fetus had severe abnormalities. The new resolution requires that the fetus be less than 120 days (17 weeks) old at the time of the abortion and that the woman’s life should not be endangered during the procedure. This law applies only to residents who have been in the UAE for at least one year and is seen as a significant step in the Muslim country’s abortion regulations.

Additionally, earlier this month, the Ministry of Health and Prevention issued new protocols to define and regulate cases of permissible abortion in the UAE. The new regulations stipulate that the decision on abortion requests shall be made by a dedicated committee formed within each health authority by the health minister or the head of an emirate’s health authority. The committee must comprise three doctors: an obstetrics and gynecology specialist, a psychiatry specialist, and a representative of the public prosecution.

The regulation mandates that the abortion procedure be performed in a healthcare facility licensed by the competent health authority and by a specialist obstetrician-gynecologist licensed to practice within the country. Additionally, the abortion should be free of any medical complications that may put the pregnant woman’s life at risk. The resolution also mandates medical and social counseling for women before and after the procedure.

The decision will take effect once it is announced in the Official Gazette, marking a notable development in the UAE’s approach to abortion laws.

In a world where women’s autonomy over their bodies is frequently contested, the recent announcement of the UAE’s new abortion laws highlights the ongoing struggle for reproductive rights. The issue of abortion has been a contentious topic worldwide, causing significant harm and suffering, particularly in the past year in the United States, where the overturning of Roe v. Wade marked a pivotal moment.

The conservative majority of the U.S. The Supreme Court, emboldened by the Trump administration, issued a ruling on June 24, 2022, overturning Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The decision meant that abortion is completely banned in 14 states, while two – Georgia and South Carolina – have banned abortion past about six weeks of pregnancy. The court declared these cases “wrongfully decided,” arguing that “the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.” This decision allowed individual states to impose their own restrictions or bans on abortion, leading to legislative chaos and a healthcare crisis across the nation.

While the availability of abortion medication offers some relief, right-wing lawmakers are striving to criminalize all forms of abortion, including mail-order pills. The impact of Roe’s fall is far-reaching, with those at or below the poverty line, particularly Black women and single mothers, bearing the brunt. These individuals often lack insurance for regular medical care during pregnancy, which carries a fatality risk 14 times higher than that of abortion. Women of color, especially Black and Indigenous women, face significantly higher rates of perinatal complications and mortality compared to their white counterparts.

Amidst the turmoil in the United States, the UAE’s relaxation on abortion in instances of rape and incest makes the country’s law more liberal than provisions in nine American states that don’t allow medical termination of pregnancy even in such cases.

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