“Do Women in Muslim Countries Have More Reproductive Freedom than American Women?”

“One in four world citizens is Muslim; 57 countries are official members of the Organization of Islamic Conferences. Muslims comprise close to half of all Africans, one-third of Asians and growing numbers of Europeans and Americans, and represent great variation across racial, ethnic, linguistic and geographic lines. While all Muslims share certain core beliefs, official and practiced Islam manifests itself in different ways as it intersects with local cultures, traditions, histories and politics. The diversity found across the Muslim world is apparent in different countries’ abortion laws and practices.
Family planning and abortion have a long history in Muslim thought. Early Muslim theologians supported contraception as long as both partners consented. The Prophet Mohammed practiced coitus interruptus, or withdrawal, and encouraged others to do the same as long as there was mutual consent regarding sexual pleasure and pregnancy. Non-permanent methods of contraception were supported. These disagreements over continuing or ending a pregnancy focused to a great extent on what did the least harm and most benefitted women, their existing children and communities…
For a woman in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, or in Mississippi, for example, obtaining an abortion is nearly impossible. The women of these states have to navigate political, geographical and legal barriers just to get to one clinic. The movement of Muslim women’s activists upends American stereotypes about the role of women in Islam, and shows that they set a path of activism and agency from which U.S. women could benefit.”
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