Abortion in Malaysia

Government view on fertility level: Too high Government Intervention concerning fertility level:To lower Government policy on contraceptive use: Direct support provided Percentage of currently married women using odder contraception (aged 15-49, 1988):31 Total fertility rate (1995-2000): 3. 2 Age-specific fertility rate (per 1,000 women aged 15-19, 1995-2000): Government has expressed particular concern about: Morbidity and mortality resulting from Induced abortionist Complications of childbearing and childbirth Yes Maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births, 1990): National 80 25 Female life expectancy at birth (1995-2000): 74. Under the former language of section 312 of the Penal Code of Malaysia, which was in effect until 1989, the only legal basis for the performance of an abortion was o save the life of the pregnant woman. In April 1989, however, section 312 of Act 727 of the Penal Code was amended substantially to permit abortion if a medical practitioner was of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman, or injury to the mental or physical health of the pregnant woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated.

The change appears to reflect to some degree the view of Malaysia’s population. A national fertility and family survey found that 71 per cent of the women surveyed endorsed abortion on he grounds of rape or incest; 54. 3 per cent endorsed it if the woman was unmarried, 52. 2 per cent for health reasons and 34. 5 per cent for economic and social reasons.

If an abortion is performed in violation of the provisions of section 312 of the Penal Code and the woman consents, both she and the person performing the abortion are subject to up to seven years’ imprisonment and payment of a fine if she is “quick” with child; if she is not “quick” with child, they are subject to up to three years’ imprisonment and/or payment of a fine. A woman is usually considered to be quick” with child around the fourth month of pregnancy.

If the woman does not consent, the person performing the abortion is subject to up to 20 years’ imprisonment and payment of a fine whether the woman is “quick” with child or not. If the abortion results in the death of the woman and she has consented, the person performing the abortion is subject to up to 10 years’ imprisonment and payment of a fine; if she did not consent, the person is subject to up to 20 years’ imprisonment. Information on the incidence of abortion is not readily available.

A report issued ROR to the 1989 amendment of section 312 of the Penal Code estimated an abortion ratio of one in three live births. In addition, induced abortion ratios per 100 pregnancies have reportedly more than doubled, with ratios in urban areas three times as high as in rural areas. Citing the advantages of a larger population in providing both an expanded domestic market and a reservoir of labor resources.

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