Is abortion legal in Mozambique?
Abortion in Mozambique was decriminalized in some situations in June 2015 under the revised Penal Code, which states that abortion is not punishable by law if carried out by a doctor or other trained health professional, in an official or officially recognized health facility, with consent of the pregnant woman, if one of the following conditions is met:
- Non-viable foetus
- Evidence of foetal abnormality or serious illness (up to 24 weeks)
- To avoid risk of death or serious illness of the woman, or if recommended in case of chronic/degenerative illness
- At the expressed wish of the pregnant woman if the pregnancy is in its first 12 weeks. (Penal Code, Article 168).
However, abortion in all other situations (including all abortions outside of a health facility or performed by someone other than a trained health professional, including self-induced abortions) remains illegal, and is punishable by a prison sentence for both the women seeking an abortion (up to 1 year), and for anyone carrying out the abortion (up to 2 years). (Penal Code, Article 166).
At the time of writing (October 2017) the Penal Code was being further revised, and so it is possible that some of the information above will change.
Prior to the revision of the Penal Code, some of the larger hospitals in the country were already providing abortion services under an internal Ministry of Health authorization from the 1980s that allowed abortions to be carried out under some circumstances in order to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity.
The Clinical Standards and Guidelines on Safe Abortion and Post-Abortion Care
Following the revision of the law, in 2016 the Ministry of Health developed Clinical Standards and Guidelines on Safe Abortion and Post-Abortion Care, based on recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO). These guidelines were published in October 2017, together with a Ministry of Health Decree which lays out how the Penal Code will be operationalised with respect to provision of safe abortion services. A training curriculum for mid-level providers (mainly maternal and child health nurses) has also been developed, training of providers is expected to start in early 2018.
What are the different abortion methods available?
The approved methods for safe abortion in Mozambique are:
- Medical abortion (Mifepristone + Misoprostol, or Misoprostol only if Mifepristone is not available)
- Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA).
Who can perform abortions?
In Mozambique abortion can be performed by a medical doctor, or any other health professional who has been trained to this effect (in practice mainly Maternal and Child Health nurses)
Where can I go for abortion services?
Public health facilities (hospitals and health centres): Services are currently officially available only in provincial hospitals and a few others. However, the Ministry of Health expects to roll out safe abortion services in at least one health facility per district in early 2018.
AMODEFA is an NGO that delivers comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services including services for young people at a network of clinics across the country, including post-abortion care. They plan to introduce abortion services when these are rolled out nationally in 2018. AMODEFA has clinics in Maputo, Namaacha, Boane, Xai-Xai and Quelimane.
Many private clinics provide abortion services, some in collaboration with DKT which runs franchised services including family planning and safe abortion.
What is the cost of an abortion?
Safe abortion services at public health facilities are be free of charge.
At private clinics the cost is variable.
What are the legal and safe drugs available?
- Misoprostol (Cytotec)
Can I buy abortion pills at a pharmacy?
Abortion pills can be bought at many pharmacies, theoretically only with a prescription. However, using these pills to induce abortion at home is a criminal offence and can be punished by law.
Who can I contact for additional information and support?
- SMSBiz: This is an SMS-based confidential information service on reproductive and sexual health, targeting young people, that can be accessed by sending and SMS with the word “juntar” to 92222.
- AMODEFA, providing a wide range of high quality, affordable reproductive and sexual health services including information and counselling. Email: email@example.com; Tel: 823031649/21-405109.
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