Abortion in Namibia

Abortion in Namibia is restricted under the Abortion and Sterilisation Act of South Africa (1975), which Namibia inherited at the time of Independence from South Africa in March 1990. The act only allows for the termination of a pregnancy in cases of serious threat to the maternal or fetal health or when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.

Legal position

Abortions are allowed only when continuing the pregnancy will "endanger the woman’s life or constitute a serious threat to her physical or mental health or there must be a serious risk that the child to be born will suffer from a physical or mental defect so as to be irreparably seriously handicapped, when the foetus is alleged to have been conceived in consequence of unlawful carnal intercourse (rape or incest); or when the foetus has been conceived in consequence of illegitimate carnal intercourse and the woman is, owing to a permanent mental handicap or defect, unable to comprehend the implications of or bear the parental responsibility for the “fruit of coitus”."[1]

In addition to the woman’s doctor, two other doctors are required to certify the existence of grounds for an abortion, and the operation must be performed by a medical practitioner in a State hospital or an approved medical facility."[2]

In a statement at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, then Minister of Health and Social Services Nickey Iyambo stated:

On the question of abortion, the position of Namibia is that it can only be performed under strict medical supervision within the confines of the laws, which state that consent to abortion can only be given in cases of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in danger. Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen it must be clearly understood that Namibia does not promote abortion as a means of family planning but as a public health issue.[3]

Impact of abortion restrictions

The lack of emergency contraceptive use and access to safe legal abortions are contributing factors to the problem of abandonment of newborns, which is acknowledged to be a serious problem in the country.[4]


  1. Obama stance on family planning praised The Namibian, 4 February 2009
  2. Statement of Namibia, H.E. Dr. N. Iyambo 8 September 1994, Cairo
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-21. Retrieved 2012-10-08.

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