Abortion is permitted to save the life of the woman, to preserve physical health, to preserve mental health, in the case of rape or incest, or in the case of foetal impairment.
Under the Abortion and Sterilization Act of South Africa (1975), which Namibia inherited at the time of independence in March 1990, abortion is allowed only under the following circumstances: when the continued pregnancy endangers the woman’s life or constitutes a serious threat to her physical health; when the continued pregnancy constitutes a serious threat to the woman’s mental health, creating the danger of permanent damage to that health; when there exists a serious risk that the child to be born will suffer from a physical or mental defect so as to be irreparably seriously handicapped; when the foetus is alleged to have been conceived in consequence of unlawful carnal intercourse (rape or incest); or when the foetus has been conceived in consequence of illegitimate carnal intercourse and the woman is, owing to a permanent mental handicap or defect, unable to comprehend the implications of or bear the parental responsibility for the “fruit of coitus”. In addition to the woman’s physician, two other physicians are required to certify the existence of grounds for an abortion. An abortion must be performed by a medical practitioner in a government hospital or an approved medical facility. Any person performing an abortion in violation of these provisions is subject to imprisonment for up to five years and/or payment of a fine.