What are the jail terms and penalties for abortion cases in the UAE?

Awatif Mohammad Shoqi Advocates & Legal Consultancy | View firm profile

Under the UAE laws, abortion is broadly regulated under two laws. These are the Federal Decree Law 31 of 2021 On the Issuance of Crimes and Penalties Law (UAE Penal Code) and the Federal Decree Law No. 4 of 2016 On Medical Liability (Medical Liability Law).

Law on Abortion under the UAE Penal Code

Under Article 391 of the UAE Penal Code, a pregnant woman who willfully aborts by any means, shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding 1 year and / or fine not more than AED 10,000 or more.

If any other person causes a pregnant woman to abort with her consent, he will be liable to imprisonment for at least 2 years or fine of minimum AED 10,000.

The UAE Penal Code, under Article 391 further states that if the person causing the abortion is a physician, surgeon, pharmacist, midwife, or any other technician, the penalty shall be temporary imprisonment for a period not exceeding five (5) years. This punishment is without prejudice to any more severe penalty provided for in any other law.

If a person willfully causes a pregnant woman to abort without her consent, such person will be sentenced to temporary imprisonment for a maximum of 7 years.

Law on Abortion under the Medical Liability Law

The Medical Liability Law also provides prohibitions on the doctor to conduct abortion subject to certain conditions.

Article 16 of the Medical Liability Law states that a doctor may not conduct any abortion operation or make a prescription which will result in abortion, except in the following cases.

  1. Where the pregnancy could endanger the life of the pregnant woman. This is subject to certain specified conditions, which are as follows.
    1. There is no other way to save the life of pregnant woman except through abortion.
    2. It is done with the knowledge of the doctor specializing in this field and with the approval of the attending physician.
    3. The pregnant woman, husband should sign a report which confirms the impossibility of childbirth and justifying the need for abortion. The report should be prepared with the knowledge of the doctors.
  2. Where foetal malformation is proven to have occurred, subject to the conditions set out below.
    1. The foetus has serious and incurable malformation, which will cause the baby harm if born alive and result in the child leading a bad life causing pain to him and his family.
    2. The spouses have issued a written request for abortion, based on which the abortion is carried out.
    3. The foetus is aborted within 120 days from the date of pregnancy.
    4. The malfunction is proved through a report issued by the concerned medical committee. The report has to be based on medical tests.

Any doctor who engages in the abortion of a pregnant woman will be sentenced to imprisonment for a maximum 4 years under Article 33 of the Medical Liability Law. If the abortion leads to the death of the victim, the doctor maybe subject to harsher penalties – imprisonment between 5 years and 10 years.

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