By: Tahani al-Sabri
There is no explicit talk about abortions occurring in Yemen, whether in hospitals, or secret clinics. The process is called “cleaning,” which reflects its in-formal nature. Abortion is believed to be contrary with Islamic beliefs, and also customs that brag of a woman who has given birth. The state continues to ignore the problem, and social customs prevent such cases from even reaching courts.
“The abortions take place in hospitals and clinics, but they do not specify if what is happening is deliberately abortion, so they called the operations ‘cleaning,’ which takes place mostly in cases of miscarriage.”
If women demand that doctors to rid of pregnancy, the doctors deny doing such things, though they recognize there are procedures conducted to save the mother’s life. They assured that this does not mean there are no clinics for abortions, especially for those who are pregnant outside of marriage.
Dr. Hassiba Grsan, a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynecology at al-Gumhori hospital in Sana’a expanded on these points.
“There are some certain medical cases led the specialist doctor to perform an abortion, but otherwise, these cases are consider as opposite to the law and customs of Yemeni society.
“Those operations would be implemented only after we get an agreement by the couple, and after they knew the risks of ongoing pregnancy, whether on the fetus or mother. If a woman suffers from a chronic disease such as heart and blood pressure, and other diseases that can affect her or unborn child, we conduct an abortion after the couple informed of the situation and we have their approval.”
Grsan confirmed that those operations do not take place only in the early stages of pregnancy.
“We can’t abort the fetus if a woman arrived at the formative stage, unless if the fetus is deformed. So in this case we must take the agreement of both couple, or if pregnant lose her child and led to bleeding, it must be aborted because her life is threatened, and this is what is known as the process of cleaning not abortion.”
It is often difficult for a doctor to know whether a pregnant tried to abort herself intentionally, because most of the operations take place in the case of massive bleeding, which threats her life and her fetus. Discussing it openly is also tabboo. Linda Muhammad Ali touched on the legal aspects.
“In cases such as rape and pregnancy outside of marriage, Yemeni law does not testify to the illegality of what is happening. It stresses punishing for the perpetrator of the crime of abortion for blood money and sometimes imprisonment for 10 years. But Yemeni law allows abortions for pregnant women if the doctor felt it necessary to preserve her life”.
According to Yemeni law, there are three types of abortion crimes: abortion by non-violence, violence, and self-infliction.