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Sender: owner-imap@webmap.missouri.edu
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 97 09:43:22 CDT
From: rich%pencil@UKCC.uky.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: Sudan: Back Door to Abortion Opens Wider
Article: 12846

/** headlines: 171.0 **/
** Topic: Sudan: Back Door to Abortion Opens Wider **
** Written 10:28 PM Jun 15, 1997 by mmason in cdp:headlines **

The Back Door to Abortion Opens Wider

By Nhial Bol, IPS, 11 June 1997

KHARTOUM, Jun 11 (IPS)—Illegal abortion is on the increase in this Islamic-rule country where despite a 42-year-old ban, women and young girls still resort to back door operations to rid themselves of unwanted pregnancies.

The prevalence of abortion is high among displaced women, sex workers, girls from poor communities, and rural women, health experts said.

Women die every month from complications resulting from illegal abortions, said Dr Ali Mohammed Al Sayed Al Kobani, a lecturer at the University of Khartoum. Only about 10 percent of the cases of illegal abortion are discovered, he added. At least 3-5 abortion cases are identified by post mortems each month.

Abortions are high in the rural areas, he said, where women use traditional herbs and malaria drugs to force an early labour. They also insert sharp objects into the uterus and a concoction made from soap. An extreme form of abortion is where a woman is beaten on the stomach until she goes into labour. All of these methods have serious health consequences which can lead to death, Dr Kobani added.

Because of the country’s law that makes abortion a crime, abortion operations are currently done behind the bar and in dark corners, away from the eyes and ears of the relatives and friends, Dr Tawfik Deeb, chairman of the Sudan Family Planning Association told IPS Wednesday.

While the high cost of living is one factor which leads women to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy, the strict religious codes also drive women and girls to illegal abortion.

In the Muslim communities, a girl is stoned to death if she becomes pregnant before marriage, and fundamentalist Christians chase their daughters away from home if they fall pregnant by unknown men.

These illegal pregnancies are the main reason for abortion in Sudan, Dr Deeb said. ...if she fails the first time, then she tries again..., attempts suicide, or disappears from the family, he added.

The Family Planning chief said that no law can prevent abortion, because it provides income for mid-wives who had become specialists in performing abortions.

But he added that one argument against legalising abortion is the fact that it is expensive to perform and extremely expensive to control.

One mid-wife who declined to be named told IPS that she gets 12,000 Sudanese Pounds (90 USD) from each abortion. Our problems arise when the abortion fails. Abortion is always accompanied by negative side-effects, such as haemorrhaging, and this opens room for other serious diseases to march their way into the body of the mother, she said.

Cleaning up a back door abortion which goes wrong, Dr Deeb said, takes a longer time and costs a lot of money to treat .

According to the United Nations Population Fund(UNFPA) in its 1997 State of the World Report, 75 million unwanted pregnancies occur annually resulting in some 45 million abortions each year.

Dr Deeb admitted however that he believes there are instances where an abortion should be performed: ... when it (the abortion) constitutes the only means to save the life of the mother who is under threat, then it should always be conducted upon medical advice from specialists and carried out in the government hospitals.

No abortion is legally allowed under any other situation here in Sudan. All religions blindly and strictly prohibit abortion without any social consideration. They are allowing poor women to kill themselves, Dr Deeb said.