For this blog post I wanted to focus specifically on abortion and the rules and regulations regarding abortion. In class we talked about how the notion of abortion is widely criticized in the United States and is split across party lines. This conversation spiked my interest on the topic and I wanted to see how other countries specially Syria, handle the issue of abortion.
Abortion In Syria
Abortion is illegal in the Syrian Arab Republic. Under the Syrian Penal Code it states that there are no exceptions to a “general prohibition of abortion”. A person who performs an abortion on a woman with her consent is subject to one to three years’ imprisonment. If the woman does not consent, the penalty is increased to at least five years’ for whoever performed the abortion. A woman who performs her own abortion or consents to its application is subject to six months’ to three years’ imprisonment. However, harsher penalties are given if the abortion results in the death of the woman or if the person performing the abortion is a health professional such as a nurse or doctor. Interestingly enough, it also states that the penalties are reduced if the woman performs the abortion in order to protect her honor or another person performs the abortion to save the honor of a descendant or a relative.
Criminal Law Principle of Necessity
With that being said, under the general criminal law principles of necessity, an abortion can be legally performed to save the life of pregnant women. This law permits health professionals to perform abortions if the continuation of the pregnancy poses a danger to the life of the women. In this circumstance another physician must approve the abortion. Then, before the procedure takes place, a record must be created to certify the necessity of the abortion and the two physicians and the patient, or her spouse, or guardian must sign it.
Grounds on which abortion is permitted:
To save the life of the woman Yes
To preserve physical health No
To preserve mental health No
Rape or incest No
Foetal impairment No
Economic or social reasons No
Available on request No
Statistics on Abortion
In general the data collected regarding abortions in Syria is extremely scarce. I would hazard to guess that the government wants to keep the number of abortions done each year secretive since they are outwardly against abortions in general. However, one study published on the United Nations website conducted in 1981 found that out of out of 31,567 pregnancies reported by 5,621 women, 9.6 percent terminated in abortion.
Use of Contraceptives
According to the UN, the Syrian Governments involvement with family planning began around 1974 when it announced its plans to intergrade family planning into its health care program. In this program they established maternal and child health as part of the overall health care program. This unit works in collaboration with the Syrian family Planning Association that provides families with planning services. Surprisingly the government supports family planning through a network of MCH centers. The government sets no major limits on contraceptives and outwardly supports the use of these contraceptives. The national statistics report that numbers have risen steadily over the past 30 years and 71% of users choose oral contraceptives, 17% choose intrauterine devices, and 11% use other methods.
Reproductive Health Context:
Government view on fertility level: Satisfactory
Government intervention concerning fertility level: No intervention
Government policy on contraceptive use: Direct support provided
Percentage of currently married women using
modern contraception (aged 15-49, 1993): 28*
Total fertility rate (1995-2000): 4.0
Age-specific fertility rate (per 1,000 women aged 15-19, 1995-2000): 44
Government has expressed particular concern about:
-Morbidity and mortality resulting from induced abortion ..
-Complications of childbearing and childbirth ..
Maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births):
Western Asia 320
Female life expectancy at birth (1995-2000): 71.2