The government has included abortion as a form of sexual violence, as noted in the government’s Problem Inventory List (DIM) for the Draft Law on Sexual Violence (RUU TPKS) contained in the Panja Meeting material, dated Monday 28th March 2022.
The DIM states: “Sexual violence also includes: f. abortion”.
The content has drawn criticism from the Save All Women and Girls (SAWG) Coalition. The coalition said it was surprised by the content because, since 2017, it has been advocating for access to essential reproductive health services including safe abortion in Indonesia.
The coalition considers that legal uncertainty will arise if the government’s DIM is passed by the House of Representatives. According to the coalition, abortion is also regulated in law number 36 of 2009 on health.
“Danger! Abortion Considered Sexual Violence! How Are Rape Victims?” exclaimed the coalition in its official statement released on Wednesday 30th March.
“The government and the House of Representatives must be able to guarantee that rape victims remain an exception for legal abortion in Indonesia. Do not let the efforts to eliminate sexual violence and provide protection to victims actually reduce access to abortion for women who are rape victims,” continued the statement.
In terms of definition, the coalition views abortion as inappropriate to be deemed sexual violence. Abortion is a process of terminating of pregnancy or removing of the contents of the uterus either naturally or by being induced. Induction of safe abortion according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) consists of two methods, namely medical – by taking – or by surgery, sometimes called manual vacuum aspiration.
“Based on the definition of abortion, it does not include violence. Moreover, abortion can occur spontaneously or naturally, which is then commonly referred to as miscarriage,” added the coalition.
The coalition is of the opinion that a medical procedure, including abortion, is still possible from a medical point of view as long as there is consent from the patient in question.
In the Indonesian Code of Medical Ethics, the principle of respect to the patient’s autonomy is enshrined, meaning patients have the freedom to know and decide what to do with them, and that they need to be given sufficient information. Patients have the right to respect their opinions and decisions and should not be forced, for that an explanation and consent is required.
“With the above arguments, the SAWG Coalition urges the government to revise the DIM in the List of the Sexual Violence Bill dated 10th February 2022 by removing abortion as a form of sexual violence because it is, by definition, incorrect and has the potential to have an impact on reducing the access of victims of rape to access legal and safe abortion services,” demanded the coalition.