In December 2016, a new Penal Code came into force expanding access to abortion. The law states that abortion is justified by the necessity to protect the woman from a grave risk to her health. It is permitted in case of sexual assault, rape, incest, or when the pregnancy puts the woman’s life, physical or mental health or the foetus’ life in danger.
The Penal Code’s previous version, dating from 1967, did not stipulate any cases in which abortion was not punishable. The 2002 Law on the Promotion of Reproductive Health, however, states that abortion is authorised when the continuation of the pregnancy endangers the life and health of the woman and when the foetus is diagnosed with a particularly serious condition.
Neither the 2017 Penal Code nor the Law on the Promotion of Reproductive Health stipulate a gestational limit.
The National Congress adopted a “Law on the Depenalization of voluntary interruption of pregnancy in three cases”, ending the previous complete ban on abortion. Abortion is now permitted to prevent a danger to the woman’s life; when the embryo or foetus has an acquired or genetic congenital pathology, incompatible with independent extrauterine life, in any case of a lethal nature; and when pregnancy is the result of rape within the first twelve weeks of gestation (fourteen weeks in the case of girls below the age of 14 years).
In 2017, the Ministry of Health published a “Clinical protocol for medical abortion in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy”. This defines “medical indications for abortion” as “all clinical situations in which prolonged pregnancies pose a serious threat to the life and health of women” and contains a list of medical indications. It also lists social conditions in which abortion is permitted and states that if a woman has grounds for abortion non-medical in nature that are not listed, a decision on whether she may terminate the pregnancy will be taken on an individual basis.
Abortion in cases of medical indications may be performed regardless of gestational age. Abortion in the case of social indications may be performed up to 22 weeks of gestation.