The new Penal Code in 2009 was an opportunity for Timor-Leste to allow some legal grounds for abortion, which was highly restricted under Indonesian rule. Public debate was contentious before ratification of the new code, which allowed abortion to save a woman's life and health. A month later, 13 amendments to the code were passed, highly restricting abortion again.
In Timor-Leste, high fertility, high maternal mortality and low levels of contraceptive prevalence demonstrate the importance of exploring perceptions, policies and practices around reproductive health and rights. This paper explores the influence of the Catholic Church on reproductive decision-making at different levels of policy and practice.