Govt Respects Rape Victims’ Right for Abortion: Minister

JAKARTA ~

Minister of Health Nafsiah Mboi has defended the recently announced Regulation No. 61/2014 on abortion for pregnant rape victims, saying that it was an effort by the government to respect women’s rights.

“Rape is a sexual crime. If a woman is forced to carry the child of her rapist, it is violation against her rights. She cannot be the victim twice: first, she gets raped, and second, she has to raise the rapist’s child,” Nafsiah reported here on Tuesday in a press conference at the Ministry of Health’s building in Central Jakarta.

Nafsiah noted that the regulation has provided legal standing for rape victims who want abortion. However, the minister emphasized that the rape victims who opt for abortion should undergo several counseling sessions, before and after the abortion.

“Counseling after abortion is necessary because abortion itself is painful. The rape victims must not go into post-abortion trauma,” said Nafsiah.

Currently, the Ministry of Health has been drafting certain supporting regulations, which will ensure that the abortion is conducted by professional medical experts. The supporting regulations will also contain sanctions for medical experts or hospitals that violate government regulations about abortion process.

Earlier, Minister for Religious Affairs Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said the government’s regulation on abortion legalized on July 21 is in line with the Indonesian Ulema Council’s (MUI’s) recommendation.

“According to the regulation, abortion is allowed under certain conditions, which supports the recommendations of the MUI,” Lukman noted.

According to the minister, the government allows abortion if the pregnancy physically or mentally threatens the mother. Doctors and medical experts have been assigned the task of deciding whether an abortion is deemed necessary. The abortion must be conducted before the fetus is 4 months old.

As per one of the articles in the regulation, abortion is allowed if the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life or if the mother was raped, or the pregnancy could cause psychological trauma to the victim.

The legalization of Regulation Number 61 had sparked a controversy among several people.

Chairman of the NGO National Commission on Child Protection (Komnas PA) Arist Merdeka Sirait asserted that abortion was akin to taking a life.

“Whatever the reason is, I disagree with abortion,” Arist stressed as quoted from beritasatu.com portal.

He argued that the abortion regulation contradicts Regulation Number 23 legalized in 2002, which states that the government should protect Indonesian children, right from the embryo stage until the child is 18 years old.

Arist also expressed concern that the regulation may be misused by women who are not rape victims.

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