Despite the legalization of abortion in Nepal last September fifty women remain imprisoned on abortion and related offenses. Sapana Pradhan Malla, Chief of Forum for Women, Law and Development told Spotlight, "As the new legislation does not have the provision for retrospective affect, it will apply only to the new cases." The women—most of who are illiterate, poor, and have suffered miscarriage or stillborn births—continue to serve harsh sentences under charges of "infanticide."
Nepal has the fourth highest maternal death rate in the world—539 out of 100,000 women die each year from pregnancy-related complications. The United Nations estimates that 50 percent of these women die from illegal abortions. The global gag rule in part may hinder the provision of much-needed safe abortion services in Nepal. Many of the organizations serving poor and rural women will face a tough decision between accepting US funds and meeting this particular health need.