Nepal’s Abortion Legalisation – Grant Miller, et al.

**Check on correct citation**

Miller, G., Valente, C., Miller, E. (2016). Insights from Nepal’s abortion legalisation. International Growth Centre.


This article included several useful facts/statistics regarding abortion world-wide, and in Nepal. The authors find that since the legalization of abortion in Nepal in 2002, abortion clinics in Nepal rose from 141 in 2006 to 291 in 2010. Further, the authors find that while the usage of  modern contraception rose steadily from the 1970s-the early 2000s, the years in which abortion was legal. However, after abortion legalization contraception usage plateaued. Using regional data indicating the number of abortion clinics per districts, Miller, et al. conjecture that the cause of plateauing contraception use is abortion. Women in regions where abortion-providing centers are plentiful, they argue, substitute abortion for contraception. “We do find evidence that abortion and modern contraception are substitutes for one another.”  The authors suggest that in order to reduce unsafe abortions, contraception should be more easily accessible (monetarily and without social stigma).

It does not seem as though the authors have dealt with their data critically enough. Sure, they find a correlation between the availability of abortion services and contraceptive usage. However, arguing that women in districts with more accessible abortion clinics substitute abortion for contraception lacks context. Other explanations for the relationship they find in the data could be that women in districts without many abortion clinics have more access to contraception through crisis pregnancy center-esque clinics or other health centers that do not provide abortion. There is likely a socioeconomic and/or socio-cultural influence that is being overlooked.  I find this article useful, but the major argument lacks context from other sources their data do not control for.



Qual Study in Istanbul – Katrina A. Macfarlane, et al.

MacFarlane, K.A., O’Neil, M.L., Tekdemir, D., & Foster, A.M. (2017). “It was as if society didn’t want a woman to get an abortion”: A qualitative study in Istanbul, Turkey. Contraception, 95, 154-160.


This article points to the strength of narrative work in studying abortion. Allowing their participants voices to speak to their own experiences, this article shines light on many struggles people in turkey go through in obtaining abortion care. Many of these struggles correlate to those faced by people in both the United States and Poland (Zuk & Zuk, 2017). One particularly interesting finding discussed in this study is that many of the participants who obtained their abortion in public clinics cited negative experiences due to the clinicians’ perpetuation of abortion stigma. Also, the study makes the connection between Turkish society’s views on women having premarital sex and their need not to be pregnant out of wedlock. This pregnancy paradox (where a woman is stigmatized for either being pregnant in societally unacceptable circumstances or ending the pregnancy) was discussed by several participants.

The article also includes very useful information related to the availability of abortion in Turkey and general facts/statistics regarding maternity and abortion. One striking statistic is that 53% of all maternal deaths in Turkey were due to unsafe/illegal abortion by 1959. After abortion was legalized, however, the number of maternal deaths dropped from 251 per 100,000 live births (in 1980) to 121 per 100,000 (in 1990).

Conscientious objection, abortion, Europe – Anna Heino, et. al

Heino, A., Gissler, M., Apter, D., & Fila, C. (2013). Conscientious objection and induced abortion in Europe. The European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care, 18. 231-233. doi: 10.3109/13625187.2013.819848.

This article is a very concise primer on the debate and current state of conscientious objection (CO) as it pertains to abortion care in Europe. Generally, the problem CO presents as it pertains to abortion care is that it can leave entire regions without access to a physician who will perform abortions. Notably, “CO puts women in an unequal position depending on their place of residence, socioeconomic status, income, and their ability to travel long distances to access a service to which they are legally entitled” (232). I saw many connections between lack of access caused by CO in Europe to lack of access caused by TRAP laws in the U.S. Overall, this article helps me to understand the ways in which CO is dangerous to women seeking abortion care and/or makes abortion services inaccessible.

Women’s health ideological & political issue – Piotr Zuk & Pawel Zuk

Zuk, P. & Zuk, P. (2017). Women’s health as an ideological and political issue: Restricting the right to abortion, access to in vitro fertilization procedures, and prenatal testing in Poland. Health Care for Women International, 38(7), 689-704. doi: 10.1080/07399332.2017.1322595


This article illustrates the ways in which conservative religious ideology can be politicized and weaponized to limit reproductive rights. Detailing the evolution (or devolution) of access to reproductive health services in Poland, many connections can be made to the current state and perhaps the future of reproductive healthcare access in the United States.

I was interested in the “discourses of power” (690) utilized by the religious and conservative interest groups mentioned throughout the article. Particularly, the ways in which particular rhetorics are used to demonize any reproductive health service, not just abortion. Using phrases like “culture of death” (contrasted by the phrase “civilization of life”) and “gender ideology,” these conservative forces construct a moral good and evil. In thinking about readings on populism, it’s easy to see how this type of rhetoric can be wielded by populist regimes. The article states that “proposals that promote women’s rights are treated almost as if they would result in a loss of national identity.”  Thus again, women’s reproductive healthcare has been politicized in a way that can be used to further a conservative populist agenda (RE: Aysin-Düzgit & Keyman’s characteristics of populism).

This article also provides an interesting perspective to the issues that “conflicts of consciousness” pose to reproductive healthcare as discussed by Heino, Gissler, Apter, and Fiala (2013).