This commentary describes positive political norm change on abortion despite a restrictive abortion law. As we describe it, the approach in Pakistan has involved careful efforts to maintain government ownership, leadership, and accountability for safe abortion care and service delivery by Pakistani health authorities early and throughout, with technical support from civil society as requested. This commentary suggests that careful collaboration and mutual support by NGOs working on expanding access to abortion can have a lasting and efficient impact on improving political norms and government ownership over abortion care.
The Punjab Health Minister, Dr Yasmin Rashid, addressed a seminar on “Ending Gender-Based Violence”, held under the ambit of the Punjab Government, in collaboration with UN Women. “It saddens me that some people get to know about the sex of the baby during pregnancy and abort the child if it were not a boy,” she said. She reiterated that no society can move forward without empowering women. “Violence against a woman disturbs the whole family … Continued
When at 19 Mehnaz became pregnant for the fifth time, she panicked. She already had four daughters, and her husband was threatening to throw her out if she had another. So she had an abortion. “I kept taking tablets – whatever I laid my hands on,” she says. “I lifted heavy things” – like the furniture in her tiny living room. She drank brews of boiled dates – many Pakistanis believe the beverage triggers labour. … Continued
Gulalai Ismail, is the co-founder and chair of Aware Girls in Pakistan and an award-winning human rights activist. She was detained at the Islamabad airport on 12 October 2018 by the Federal Investigative Agency on her return from the UK. Her passport was confiscated and she was told she would soon be sent to jail in Swabi for speaking at a peace rally on 12 August, where she gave a welcome speech. A police case … Continued
USA Pregnant against their will, with few options, and fearing for their lives and safety “I’m in the family way again, and I’m nearly crazy, for when my husband finds out that I’m going to have another baby, he will beat the life out of me… Please write to me and help me.” (USA, Birth Control Review, 1917) “I am in need of help desperately. I am pregnant and cannot have this baby. My … Continued