A Feminist Accident: On Abortion And Reproductive Justice In Egypt

Illustration of a crowd of women with masks on. The masks have a lightening sign in the space for mouth.

This is an excerpt from RESURJ’s Blog, “A Feminist Accident: On Abortion And Reproductive Justice In Egypt”. To read the full post on the RESURJ Blogs page, please visit the original link here.

I read present-day demands for the legalization of abortion in Egypt as slogans along the lines of “my body is mine,” which restrict it within a human rights debate rather than a health service that should be included among other reproductive health services. Such slogans imply a naive message that we can control our bodies through laws and regulations. But laws and regulations are tactical steps we can use to advance a certain discourse — they are not an end in themselves. In addition to the need to learn from all the lessons of feminist movements calling for safe abortions in other countries with similar contexts, it is necessary to make it a cause for all women, and not just confine it to a group with specific features and needs, so that it is linked to social class, for example, or race, or ability and living with disability.

Limiting abortion to the framework of sexual liberation makes it an issue that does not include the different women who are motivated by numerous economic and social conditions.

Abortion is done regardless of its legal status. It is therefore useful for us to link the right to safe abortion services to women’s lack of knowledge about (emergency) contraceptives, partners’ lack of cooperation in making reproductive choices, the deterioration of the quality of reproductive health services and women’s reluctance to use them, the availability of reproductive health services and contraceptive methods on marital status, and the absence of comprehensive sexual education for adolescent girls and boys and, consequently, their inability to protect themselves. If our intention is to achieve reproductive justice, then just as we include women who do not want to be pregnant and give birth, we must also include women who do want to be pregnant and give birth, and therefore we must support assisted reproductive technology services, such as ICSI. If our starting point is to guarantee the right to not have children, we must guarantee along with it the right to have children, since assisted reproductive technology services are also extremely expensive and unavailable to many women.

What I want to say is that abortion is not an independent issue. We hear about abortion from our grandmothers and our conservative relatives who chose to terminate a pregnancy in its early weeks because they could not meet the needs of an additional person. Limiting abortion to the framework of sexual liberation makes it an issue that does not include the different women who are motivated by numerous economic and social conditions. Separating abortion from the reality of its nature as a healthcare service pushes it into a corner that invites the opinion of just about anyone on our permanent and changing decisions to not bear children. Here, I am not negotiating over the right to not have children, rather, I am negotiating over the tactics we use to claim that right. I invite us to ponder what it is that these tactics reflect.

BY NANA ABUELSOUD

To read the full post on the RESURJ Blogs page, please visit the original link here.

The article was originally published on Mada Masr

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