Access to state-provided abortion services has worsened since the Tunisian Revolution, according to the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (ATFD).
During a round table held yesterday at the headquarters of the association in Tunis, representatives of both the ATFD and the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR) addressed the theme of “the right to abortion and access to abortion services in post-revolution Tunisia.”
Public hospitals and family planning centers have provided abortion services in Tunisia since 1973, when abortion up until the fourth month of pregnancy was legalized. But residents of some regions in the country, especially in the South and the North West, have complained that abortion services have not been available since the Revolution.
“After the Revolution, some officials decided to stop providing abortion services … Many women cannot afford to go to private clinics,” said Emna Hsairi, coordinator of the sexual and reproductive commission at the ATFD. “We are taking steps backward … This is harming women’s health.”
A reduction in public abortion services is most harmful to the poor, given the higher costs of private clinics, Hsairi said.
She said state-provided abortion services help prevent incidents such as killing or abandoning newborn babies.
“The law was made to prevent such cases,” she added.
The round table is a part of an international campaign entitled “One Day, One Struggle.” The campaign is an annual event, co-organized by the CSBR, in which one of 15 countries chooses a different theme every year. The 15 countries consist of states from the Middle East, north Africa and Asia.