The criminalization of abortion is relativized over time. Thus, when a pregnancy is revealed to be dangerous for the pregnant woman or for the fetus, a therapeutic abortion can be decided upon under certain conditions. Therapeutic abortion, also known as medical termination of pregnancy (MTP), is a termination of pregnancy for medical reasons.
What are the conditions for performing a therapeutic abortion?
According to the provisions of article 37 of the Beninese Code of Medical Ethics, a therapeutic abortion can only be carried out if this intervention is the only means likely to save the mother’s life.
When the saving of the mother’s life seriously threatened requires either a surgical intervention or the use of a therapeutic method likely to lead to the termination of the pregnancy, the attending physician or surgeon must obligatorily take the opinion of two consulting physicians, one of whom is from the list of experts at the civil court who, after examination and discussion, will certify in writing that the mother’s life can only be saved by such a therapeutic intervention.
- 1st condition: when the mother’s life is seriously threatened ;
- 2nd condition: the treatment related to the threat to the mother’s life must result in the termination of the pregnancy. Otherwise, if there is no link between the treatment and the termination of the pregnancy, abortion cannot occur;
- 3rd condition: the attending physician or the surgeon must obligatorily take the opinion of two certified consulting physicians;
- 4th condition: a written attestation of therapeutic abortion is required.
Are the doctor and the patient obliged to perform the abortion?
In case of indication of therapeutic abortion, the doctor must bow to the eventual refusal of the patient duly informed. Exceptions to this rule can only be made in cases of extreme urgency and when the patient is unable to give consent.
If the physician, because of his or her convictions, considers that he or she is prohibited from advising or performing an abortion, he or she may withdraw, ensuring continuity of care by a qualified colleague.
When abortion does not meet these conditions, it becomes a criminal offense punishable under article 622 of the Penal Code in force in Benin.