Kurdistan’s new abortion law doesn’t go far enough: activists

Shkoi Kurdistan-

The Kurdistan Region parliament has passed a law for the first time legalizing abortion under strict conditions, but women’s rights activists say the law does not go far enough. 

Parliament passed the Patient’s Rights and Responsibilities law on Tuesday, which includes a provision on abortion.

“A pregnant woman suffering from a dangerous ailment that poses a serious threat to her life, it is possible to abort her child with consent from the patient and her husband, a decision from an expert committee which should not consist of fewer than five physicians, and a test that should have been done in the public sector,” reads Article 7 of the law.

“Other than this case, abortion is categorically prohibited,” it adds. 

Under the Iraqi penal code, abortion is illegal. Any doctors who perform the procedure could be jailed for three years and lose their license. Iraqi laws are not automatically applied within the Kurdistan Region, but must be approved by the Kurdish parliament, which can also make amendments and pass its own laws independent of Baghdad. 

“In the past we had a legal vacuum on the subject of medical abortion here in Kurdistan,” MP Galawzh Obeid Osman, a member of the parliament’s health committee, told Shkoi Kurdistan. “This is not uncommon. Medical abortion is allowed in most European countries and our neighboring countries. It was a must and we had to at some point legalize medical abortion.”

“Before adding this article in the law, we consulted the Kurdistan Islamic Scholars and their fatwa committee, as well as Christian and Yezidi MPs. We all unanimously agreed that only medical abortion should be allowed to save the life of the mother if her life is at stake,” Osman said, adding “there were no negative reactions among the lawmakers about this subject.” 

Women’s rights activists say they want the law to go much further, and not be limited to medically necessary cases. 

“We are for abortion according to law, not in secret ways. But the law they have passed does not really allow a true abortion. They have legalized only medical abortion. The space must be wider, because in all cases, women must enjoy the right to decide on their own body,” Bahar Ali, head of the We Organization for Human Development said.. 

She said women must be allowed to make their own choices in the case of an unwanted pregnancy. “They must have the power to abort a child that has ended up in their womb without their own will,” Ali said.

“We have cases of rape. Why is a woman not allowed to abort a child that has ended up in her body as a result of a rape? A girl who engages in a sexual relationship with her boyfriend may get pregnant and she risks being killed by her family. Do not just talk about the health of a woman, what about the life of a woman,” she said. 

Kosar Ali, a women’s rights activist, also slammed the law, saying women must have full control. “As a mother I must wield all the power to decide whether or not to have a child,” she said.. 

“The lawmakers from the human rights and women rights [committees] should not have accepted this abortion section to be passed as such. There is no need to only legalize medical abortion, because it already must happen,” she added. 

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button