Abortion law Indonesia

Abortion Legislation

Abortion is permitted to save a woman's life, in cases of fetal impairment, and in cases of rape. Spousal authorization is required. 

Modelled on the turn-of-the-century Dutch Criminal Code, the Indonesian Criminal Code, enacted in 1918 by the Dutch colonial Government, adopts a restrictive view of abortion. Under section 348 of the Code, any person performing an abortion is subject to imprisonment for five and one-half years. Under section 346 of the Code, a woman wilfully inducing her own miscarriage is subject to imprisonment for up to four years.  In addition, physicians, midwives, and pharmacists are subject to harsher penalties, including the revocation of their licence to practise their profession. Although the Code contains no exceptions to its general prohibition on the performance of abortions, in the 1970’s an “understanding” was reached by medical professionals, on the advice of the Chief Justice of the High Court, that abortions could be performed to preserve a woman’s life or health.  However, actual reform of the abortion law did not take place until 1992 when the Government enacted Health Law 23/1992 containing abortion provisions.

The new Health Law specifies that “in the case of emergency and with the purpose of saving the life of a pregnant woman or her foetus, it is permissible to carry out certain medical procedures”.  The abortion must be based on the guidance of a team of experts, must have the consent of the pregnant woman or of her husband or family, and must be performed by health workers with the expertise in a “certain structure.”  An explanatory note to the Law specifies that the health worker must be an obstetrician/gynaecologist, that the expert team is to be multidisciplinary, and that the husband or family is to give consent only when the woman is unconscious or otherwise unable to give consent.

*Information above has been retrieved from the official UN website. Full text can be found here.

Sexual and reproductive health rights (articles 5, 10, 12 and 16)

"Women and girls across Indonesia continue to face serious obstacles in law, policy and
practice, to fulfilling their sexual and reproductive rights, barriers which are rooted in gender
discrimination. These barriers constitute violations of Indonesia’s international human rights
obligations to respect, protect and fulfil women’s and girls’ right to health, in particular
sexual and reproductive health.29 The failure to ensure that women and girls can realize their
sexual and reproductive rights free from discrimination, coercion and criminalization is
undermining Indonesia’s ability to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),
and in particular MDG 3 on gender equality and MDG 5 on improving maternal health.

2.1 Discrimination against unmarried women and girls (articles 5(a), 
10 and 12) 

Both the Population and Family Development Law (No. 52/2009) and the Health Law (No.
36/2009) provide that access to sexual and reproductive health services may only be given to
legally married couples, thus excluding all unmarried people from these services. Government
midwives and doctors interviewed by Amnesty International in March 2010 confirmed that
they normally do not provide reproductive health services, including contraception and family
planning, to unmarried women and girls.30

District health officers and other government officials told Amnesty International in March
2010 that contraception and family planning services are intended solely for married people
in accordance with laws and policies.
This situation leaves unmarried women and girls at risk of unwanted pregnancies, sexually
transmitted diseases, and human rights abuses. For example, unmarried adolescents who
become pregnant are often forced to stop schooling. Instead of risking rejection by the wider
community, some women and girls may decide – or be forced – to marry when they become
pregnant, or else to seek an unsafe abortion which puts them at risk of serious health
problems and maternal mortality.31

For unmarried women and girls who want to continue pregnancy, it remains unclear how they
can access reproductive health services during pregnancy and at the time of the birth,
without getting married first. Amnesty International’s research suggests that the fear of

stigmatization can discourage pregnant unmarried women and girls, especially if they are
from poor and marginalized communities, from seeking antenatal and postnatal services.
Unmarried women and girls who are rape victims may also not receive access to reproductive
health services, either because they do not know they are entitled to these services or due to
the fear of stigmatization.

Unmarried girls who become pregnant face the threat of expulsion from school or
discriminatory treatment. In September-November 2010, there were moves to introduce
virginity testing as part of female students’ eligibility to study,32 and more recently there were
some attempts to restrict the ability for some pregnant students from taking national exams
in East Java and East Nusa Tenggara.33 Such tests and exclusions are not only intrusive and
degrading, but plainly discriminatory, as nowhere are men and boys subjected to any
equivalent form of “moral” testing."

*Information above has been retrieved from the official United Nations Human Rights website: Briefing to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women Amnesty International June 2012 Index: ASA 21/022/2012 


Misoprostol Availability

Misoprostol is available under the brand names Noprostol and Gastrul.

Additional Resources:

WHO Maternal Mortality Statistics, link.

UNICEF Maternal Health Statistics, link.