Abortion policy

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Grounds on which abortion is permitted:
To save the life of the woman Yes

To preserve physical health Yes

To preserve mental health Yes

Rape or incest No

Foetal impairment No

Economic or social reasons No

Available on request No
Additional requirements:
An abortion procedure on any of the approved grounds must be certified by two licensed physicians. Written consent to the abortion is required either from the woman or from someone with legal authority to act on her behalf. A legal abortion must be performed in a licensed facility.


Government view on fertility level: Too high

Government intervention concerning fertility level: To lower

Government policy on contraceptive use: Direct support provided

Percentage of currently married women using

modern contraception (aged 15-49, 1997: 38

Total fertility rate (1995-2000): 4.9
Age-specific fertility rate (per 1,000 women aged 15-19, 1995-2000): 43
Government has expressed particular concern about:

Morbidity and mortality resulting from induced abortion Yes

Complications of childbearing and childbirth Yes
Maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births, 1990):

National 150

Western Asia 320
Female life expectancy at birth (1995-2000): 71.5


Abortion is prohibited in Jordan under the Penal Code, Law No. 16 for the year 1960. Any person performing an abortion is subject to one to three years’ imprisonment. If that person is a medical worker, the sentence is increased by one third. A woman inducing her own miscarriage or allowing it to be induced is liable to six months’ to three years’ imprisonment. Penalties are increased if the abortion was carried out without the woman’s consent or resulted in her death. Penalties are decreased if the abortion is performed by the woman or a descendant or relative to the third degree for the purpose of saving her honour.

Nonetheless, under Public Health Law No. 20 of 1971 (section 62[a]), an abortion may be performed when it is necessary to avert a danger to the life or health of the pregnant woman. The abortion must be approved by two physicians, and the written consent of the pregnant woman must be obtained, unless she cannot write or speak. In this case, her spouse or the person legally responsible for her must give written consent. Neither the Penal Code nor the Public Health Law sets time limits for the performance of abortions.

Although the laws in Jordan with regard to induced abortion are relatively restrictive, they are broadly interpreted with considerable discretion. It has been observed that the effect of induced abortion on fertility is significant, compared with the effect in a number of other countries in the region. Most unsafe abortions are performed by midwives. Consequently, training courses have been introduced to remove some of the dangers associated with traditional birth practices. International assistance is being provided to improve and expand maternal and child health programmes and to broaden the range of modern contraceptives that are available in the country. Contraceptive products related to the social marketing campaign are now available at a reasonable price at virtually all of Jordan’s pharmacies. The modern contraceptive prevalence rate has increased from 27 percent in 1990 to 38 per cent in 1997. The National Population Commission (NPC) sought to revise upwards its original 2000 target of 41.5 percent.

Jordan implemented its first National Population Strategy in 1996, and it is currently being revised to include reproductive health and gender issues. The National Population Commission, which was established in 1973, is now under the chairmanship of Princess Basma bint Talal, a step that indicates a new impetus towards explicit support to birth spacing nationwide.
Reliable statistics on abortion are not readily available. However, one estimate puts the induced abortion rate at one per 1,000 deliveries. The major reasons for having an abortion are believed to include illness of the mother; family size (too many children); unwanted new children; complicated childbirth; and pregnancy out of wedlock.

Source: The Population Policy Data Bank maintained by the Population Division of the Department for Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. For additional sources, see list of references.

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