On August 14, after much debate, controversy and anti-Islamic accusations by the conservative sectors of Algerian society, the 2018 Health Act finally came into force and promulgated three permissive cases for abortions:
1) when the physiological, psychological and/or mental balance of the woman is at serious risk. The text is not explicit as to the nature of the loss of balance, but is believed to refer to a woman who was raped and pregnant.
2) when the fetal anomaly implies non-viability.
3) when a woman’s life or health is at risk if the pregnancy continues.
It reads in the text of the law:
Art 81. When the conditions detected by the prenatal diagnosis confirm with certainty that the fetus or embryo is suffering from a serious illness or malformation that does not allow its viable development, the specialist doctor or specialists involved, according to the attending physician , shall inform the couple and undertake, with their consent, any therapeutic medical measures dictated by the circumstances. However, when the mother’s life is in danger, the medical specialists involved may decide to terminate the pregnancy.
Art. 82. When the physiological, psychological and mental balance of the mother is seriously threatened, the medical specialist (s) involved, in agreement with the attending physician, shall inform the mother and carry out, with the consent, any therapeutic measure dictated by circumstances. The rights of minors or incapacitated persons are guaranteed in accordance with paragraph 2 of article 22 of this law. In the face of a great risk to the life of the mother and the fetus, the medical specialists involved are also required to make the appropriate therapeutic medical decisions.
Algerian women will now be able to access public health services to perform an abortion when they fall into established cases. The practice was temporarily legalized during the 1990s in times of conflict when women were raped.
For further reading into the sexual and reproductive rights landscape in the region, SPW recommends Jadaliyya’s article published in 2016.