UAE To Allow Women To Undergo Abortion In Cases Of Rape And Incest

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is set to allow women to undergo abortions in cases where the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest. The decision is a crucial milestone in the UAE’s evolving abortion laws, as experts believe that it will serve to boost the health and safety of women living in the country, as reported by The National News.

The Cabinet Resolution No. (44) of 2024 pertaining to the Medical Liability Law states that 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,” as quoted by The National News.

The rape or incest must be reported to the authorities immediately and subsequently proven by an official report from the Public Prosecution. According to the resolution, the fetus of the victim must be less than 120 days old at the time of the abortion procedure. It further states that the abortion should be free of any medical complications that may put the woman’s life at high risk.

The law is applicable to residents who have been in the UAE for at least a year.

“The UAE has a penal code and has laws and procedures in place to penalise and hold perpetrators accountable, what we needed now were legislations to help resolve what may have resulted because of these crimes,” The National News quoted a source as saying.

“We needed legislations to protect women, children, and families,” the source said. She stated that women would often resort to unlicensed clinics or travel abroad for abortions, putting their lives at risk in the process.

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According to Article 406  of the Crimes and Penalties Law in the UAE, the punishment for rape in the UAE is life imprisonment and the death penalty if the victim is under the age of 18 or “has a physical disability or suffers from a health condition that renders her unable to resist, or if the perpetrator is one of the victim’s ascendants or non-marriageable relatives”.

The cabinet resolution will become effective once it is announced in the UAE’s official gazette.

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