In Sudan's Islamist state, abortion is politicized through its association to illegal pregnancy. Fornication is crime against God punishable with 100 lashes. Pregnancy outside a marriage contract constitute sufficient evidence of the woman's immorality. This enables a strong link between the crime of fornication and the crime of illegal abortion, to the extent the terms interchangeably in the Sudanese context. While abortion does not appear in the domestic political debate on women's reproductive and maternal health and is not on the agenda of the women's movement, it is politicized in the implementation of law in government hospitals. There are a number of bureaucratic barriers in place to prevent illegal abortion alongside a strong police presence outside maternity wards in government hospitals. Honoring the hippocratic oath, doctors disobey state policy, refraining from reporting illegal pregnancies to the police to protect unmarried and vulnerable women from prosecution.

Liv Tønnessen

Director of Center on Law and Social Transformation and Senior Researcher