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UAE Allows Women to Access Emergency Abortions Without Spousal Consent

The UAE has recently amended its medical liability law to make it easier for medical professionals to conduct an abortion if the mother’s life is in grave danger. This is a significant change that puts the pregnant woman in charge of her health and respects the dignity and sanctity of life.

Women in the UAE had very few options to end their pregnancies before the law was amended. The UAE law only allows abortion in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, or where the fetus has serious and incurable defects that would make its life miserable. This is one of the recent legal changes that the country has introduced to promote the rights of women.

What Does the New Abortion Law Say?

According to the new law, medical professionals are allowed to carry out abortion only in two cases:

  • If the continuity of the pregnancy endangers the pregnant woman’s life.
  • If the fetus deformation is proved.

In both cases, however, multiple conditions apply, according to the law.

  • The new law also states that only the consent of the pregnant woman, and not her husband, is required to commence an abortion operation (among other conditions).
  • As per the new regulation, in a situation when the woman is not able to provide consent, the woman’s husband or, in the absence of the husband, her guardian as defined under the Personal Status Law are required to consent to the abortion operation. However, consent shall not be a condition in emergency cases that require immediate surgical intervention.
  • The new law also removes the restriction limiting the availability of abortion to 120 days since gestation if the pregnancy poses a risk to the mother’s life.
  • Additionally, the law has granted the cabinet the power to issue resolutions determining other cases of permitted abortion, which is a promising inclusion.

Abortion Restrictions in the Past

According to the previous law, abortion was generally prohibited and criminalized, except in two cases:

  1. When the mother’s life was at risk, or
  2. When the fetus had serious and incurable defects.

Even in these cases, the consent of the husband or the guardian was required, and the abortion had to be done within 120 days of pregnancy.

Why Is the New Abortion Law a Notable Change?

  • Removal of time limit and expansion of cases for abortion:

The new law removes the time limit for abortion in life-threatening situations and gives the sole decision to the pregnant woman, without the need for any other approval. The law also empowers the cabinet to determine other cases where abortion is permitted, based on medical and social factors.

  • Ethical and professional obligations of medical practitioners:

The law also stresses the ethical and professional obligations of the medical practitioners who perform abortion, such as using appropriate technologies, ensuring confidentiality, and obtaining informed consent. The law aims to balance the sanctity and dignity of life with the dignity and autonomy of the patients.

  • Penalties and prohibitions for illegal or unauthorized abortions:

The law still imposes severe penalties for illegal or unauthorized abortions, ranging from four to ten years of imprisonment, depending on the outcome of the abortion. The law also prohibits abortion for any reason other than those specified by the law, even with parental consent.

  • Reform and modernization of the legal system:

The amendment to the abortion law is part of the UAE’s efforts to update and reform its legal system, in line with its vision of becoming a modern and tolerant society that values human rights and diversity. The law is also expected to improve the quality and accessibility of health care for women, especially those who face difficult medical situations.

 How Is the New Abortion Law Welcomed by Medical Practitioners?

The new abortion law is also welcomed by medical practitioners, who see it as a positive step in line with recent developments. The new law makes an already emotionally difficult procedure for the mother a little bit easier without having to worry about getting the necessary consent forms signed.

Given recent other changes in UAE law, such as permitting single mothers to be able to give birth in the country, this amendment becomes important. Under the previous law, if a single mother had a medical complication and required an abortion, she would have had to reach out to her next male relatives to sign a consent form. The new abortion law is a progressive and compassionate move that empowers women and protects life. It is a reflection of the UAE’s vision and values, and a testament to its respect for human dignity and diversity.

How HHS Lawyer in Dubai can help you?

HHS Lawyer is a leading law firm in UAE that can assist you with any legal issues related to the new legislation on emergency abortions. HHS Lawyers in Dubai can help you understand your rights and options, protect your privacy and dignity, and guide you through the legal process. Contact us today for an initial consultation and let us handle your case with compassion and professionalism. HHS Dubai Lawyers is your trusted partner in this sensitive and challenging situation.

Hassan Humaid Al Suwaidi., LL.B. is a Senior Partner in HHS Lawyers. He has 20 years of experience dealing with high-value and complex cases. Frequently featured in local and international legal directories and commended for his ability to attain favorable outcomes for clients, Hassan has been involved in some of the largest legal settlements. A major part of his work is providing expert legal advice on UAE legislation and acting for individuals and businesses during disputes and litigation.