Unsafe abortion is still prevailing in the Middle East and North Africa, and each year, thousands of women in the developing countries die and millions more are left with temporary or permanent disabilities because of unsafe abortion.
In one of the WHO studies, it’s estimated that one fifth of pregnancies, 42 million of 210 each year are voluntarily aborted, 20 million of these are illegal.
And 98 percent of unsafe abortions occur in the developing countries, where abortion laws are restrictive.
In 1965, Tunisia became the first MENA country to liberalize its abortion law.
Restrictive laws apply to 40% of world’s population. In countries which prohibit abortion, women who seek health services in relation to the termination of a pregnancy, whether in order to carry out abortion or to seek medical care after it, may be subjected to prosecution and imprisonment. Prohibition does not reduce the need and number of abortions; it merely increases the risks to the health and life of women and girls who resort to unsafe and illegal services.
In Mena Region, Only Tunisia and Turkey have no restrictions on abortion, where Spousal consent is not required, and women do not have to be married to obtain an abortion.
Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Palestinian, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, prohibit abortion except to save women’ life.
Other Countries like; Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia permits abortion to preserve woman’s physical and mental health only.
The UNFPA reports that one in 10 pregnancies in the 21 predominantly Muslim countries of the region ends in abortion.
A study by the International Planned Parenthood Federation estimated there were 7 million abortions in the Arab world from 1995 to 2000, and according to a recent poll by WorldPublicOpinion.org, 53% of Egyptians, 57% of Palestinians and 55% of Iranians oppose their governments’ policies of making abortion a crime.
In Egypt, One study of 1,300 Egyptian women conducted by the Cairo Demographic center, showed that one-third had tried to terminate a pregnancy which is a rate comparable with some developed countries.
Similarly, a small study in Upper Egypt found that 41 percent of women in one rural area had at least one abortion, and that 25 percent had more than one. The vast majority of them (92 percent) did so without the help of a medical professional, instead seeking the help of a traditional midwife, a relative or neighbor, or a traditional practitioner.
Mark Your Calendar: 28 September
The 28th September was selected by women’s groups in Latin America and the Caribbean in 1990, to be the Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal.
These groups have been mobilizing around this date to demand their governments to decriminalize abortion, to provide access to safe and affordable abortion services, to end discrimination towards women who choose to have around the practice, and to end stigma that negatively impact the way a given society perceives abortion by linking this medical procedure to notions of “abnormality,” “immorality”, or “deviancy”.
In 2011 Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) took September 28 to the global level in solidarity with the women’s movement in Latin America.
In 2016, a coalition of 430 international pro-abortion groups sent a letter to the UN asking that Sept. 28 to be recognized as “Safe Abortion Day” by the UN General Assembly.
The pro-abortion groups asked the UN “to send a strong signal to the international community and to all our governments with a simple but highly symbolic statement of support for safe abortion” by agreeing to acknowledge the pro-abortion celebration.