Abortion Laws in Syria

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.

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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.

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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):

National                                                                                         180

Western Asia                                                                                 320

Female life expectancy at birth (1995-2000):                                71.2

Works Cited:

http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/abortion/doc/syrianarabrep.dc.

https://www.womenonwaves.org/en/page/4856/abortion-law-syria

http://globaljusticecenter.net/blog/?p=59

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3 thoughts on “Abortion Laws in Syria

  1. This post was so thorough! It was very easy for me to understand Syria’s position on the issues of abortion and contraceptives. It interested me that the government and the United Nations are so invested in the family lives of Syrians. I suppose it happens everywhere, as you said the topic of abortion is hotly debated here in the United States, but it still baffles me that governments get so invested in these types of matters with their citizens. For example, the proof that abortion should be legal and left alone by the government of the U.S. is in the fourth amendment of our constitution which gives us the right to secure our person without being disturbed by the government. It is hard to believe that Syrians do not have this type of protection and are sometimes forced to give themselves an abortion. The fact that the Syrian government is not properly addressing the issue of abortion with a modern mind is causing more harm to their people because it drives them to perform life threatening procedures on themselves. The responsibility of the government is to protect its citizens and by making abortions such a taboo they are endangering the lives of their citizens, not only by forcing self-abortions but also by forcing babies on people who may not be mentally or financially stable enough. It seems that the a woman should be able to get an abortion in order to preserve her physical health. Perhaps it will take a huge social movement to win reproductive rights for women due to the fact that these issues are handled with ancient religious tradition.

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  2. Syria’s abortion policy is similar to Indonesia’s abortion policy. I am glad both countries allow abortion to save the women’s life; however, I think both countries should allow more lead way for abortion. After all, it is the women’s body, and i believe the women should have the right to decide to participate in abortion or not. For example, women whom are raped, and later finds out that they are pregnant cannot legally participate in abortion. In my view, this is unjust because the victim did not ask to be raped. This is one of the many reasons why women illegally participate in abortion. As a criminal justice major, I’m curious of the punishments for causing a women’s death during an illegal abortion in Syria. In Indonesia, the person can face up to fifteen years of prison.

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  3. Very detailed post. I found it very curious that the circumstances which women can get an abortion in Syria are very limited and established in their code of law. However, on the other hand, I was even more surprised that family planning is such a commonality in Syria. This is something that I also found curious while reading other blog posts on this topic. Many Arab countries are so against abortions but are so open to family planning. Something that resonated with me from your post is your comment regarding the lack of statistics on the matter of abortion, and I do agree with you that it is definitely not publicized by government. Even while doing my own research in Bahrain, which is a country that is more open to abortions, I was not not able to find a lot of data pertaining to the issue. Your post just proved to be that there is more or less a general consensus in the Arab world about abortions and how Bahrain is the odd one out being the most liberal when it comes to this issue.

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