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Turning to Pharmacies for Clandestine Abortions

“Most clandestine abortions don’t happen in back-alley clinics, but rather through local pharmacies where women buy pills to self-induce without receiving medical guidance”

One in thousands of women in Nepal faces complications from clandestine abortions each year. Among teenagers, as well as adults, where they are completely dependent on the pharmacists and their instructions.

“On a bright afternoon in April, Jiya Shreshta* met her sister in an empty field near her apartment. Her sister slipped a pack of medical abortion pills into her hands. Shreshta swallowed one pill immediately as her sister relayed the pharmacist’s sole instruction: “Take the next pill after 24 hours.” Shreshta felt relieved as she scurried home, hoping no one had seen.

After taking the pills, Shreshta, 30, maintained her routine: cooking, cleaning, helping her son with his homework. A week passed but the heavy bleeding, a normal side effect of medical abortions, didn’t abate. The pain sharpened. She spent her time coiled up in bed, swapping out four sanitary napkins a day.
Shreshta had taken the pills because she feared a doctor would berate her for getting pregnant. But now she wondered if they had even worked.

She eventually sought treatment for her bleeding at a health clinic.”—Tricia Taormina, WOMEN & GIRLS

Legalization of abortion was declared in 2002, but clandestine procedures are still common. With a huge amount of populations who are uneducated, people seem to look up to the ways that are easy. With less or no knowledge about the drugs they are consuming, they face various problems. Many women don’t realize abortion is legal and free at public health clinics. For which, many people are making various awareness events. Now, the government and NGO’s are educating pharmacies on the process to offer women safer abortions.

With the right procedure, self-inducing abortions using misoprostol and mifepristone can safely terminate a pregnancy. But, in Nepal, pharmacies provide the drugs to women who are past their first trimester increasing different health problems—increase the risk of hemorrhage, serious infection or incomplete abortion. There are cases where the patients had faced life-threatening infections after visiting pharmacists, where they had their uterus removed.

With the rise in such problems, Marie Stopes International is here to take an initiative to make people aware and support them in it. They have been delivering contraception, safe abortion, and mother-baby
care for over thirty years and has worked in over 37 countries around the world.

Marie Stopes Nepal aims to ensure that every woman has got their say for themselves. They do this by ensuring accessible and affordable healthcare services and products including family planning and safe abortion services for those who want it, where legal.


What they do:
-Safe Abortion
-Sexual Health Care
-Post-Abortion Family Planning
-VIA & Cryotherapy

To know more about their services, do view their official website and Facebook page.

Facebook – Marie Stopes Nepal
Website –

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Written by Dorjee Khando

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