Perceptions, interpretations and implications of abortions: A qualitative enquiry among the legal community of Pakistan

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Background: The number of unsafe abortions is increasing across South Asia, also in Pakistan, where abortion is only permitted under special circumstances. The law on abortion is vaguely interpreted by the legal community.
Methods: Using Grounded Theory, 33 in-depth interviews of representatives of the legal profession and law enforcement agencies were conducted in 2010.
Results: Abortion is perceived as forbidden by both law and religion, and a punishable crime. Respondents believed that sentences are highly dependent on the social status of the woman who had the abortion. A few consider the current law as relevant and sufficient whereas the majority would support amendments. A number of them agreed that the high abortion rate reflects the denial of women's rights, social injustice, and a failure of public health intervention.
Conclusion: To facilitate access of women to abortion and related care, the knowledge of the existing law among legal professionals must improve. The implications of abortion for maternal health and its repercussions on a community governed by the Islamic dogmas must be publicised. The legal community could have an instrumental role in bringing about attitudinal changes vis-à-vis abortions in the society.

Publication (Name of Journal)

The European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care