This panel seeks to understand the political dynamics that drive, hamper and shape uses of criminal law to regulate abortion in Middle East and North Africa (MENA). It also aims at exploring the effects of discourses and policies promoted by states, international agencies, local NGOs, political parties and Islamic organizations on medical practices and social norms shaping modern reproductive subjectivities. Since the 1990s, reproductive health and rights have been recognized as key part of the international health and development agenda, and forms part of the Sustainable Development Goals. All countries in the MENA region permit abortion by law if the mother's life is in danger. Some countries also permit abortion in cases of a risk to the mother's physical or mental health, fetal impairment, or rape. Only Tunisia and Turkey allow women to have an abortion on demand during the first trimester. Most abortion laws in the region are punitive, and legal and medical services are restricted. In several countries, cuts in government health expenditures and the emergence of conservative religiously-oriented parties, especially after the Arab Spring, have contributed to the restriction of public sexual and reproductive health services and to rethinking women's role and rights in society. health services and to rethinking women's role and rights in society.

Liv Tønnessen

Director of Center on Law and Social Transformation and Senior Researcher