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Khartoum, Sudan
Khartoum, Sudan

Jailed for abortion in Sudan: "No regrets"

Published on : 19 September 2011 - 2:42pm | By Mohammed Abdulrahman (Photo: Rjones0856)
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After five years he’s a free man again, the Sudanese gynaecologist Abdulhadi Ibrahim. But his chances of practicing again look slim. Abortion is illegal in Sudan. Dr Ibrahim was jailed for carrying out terminations, but he insists his work saved thousands of lives.

“I don’t regret what I have done for a moment. The years I spent in the prison are the price for saving the lives of thousands of girls and protecting their families. I am fully satisfied, both morally and professionally,” said Dr Abdulhadi Ibrahim, in an interview with Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

Dr Ibrahim was released this month after serving five years in prison for conducting illegal abortions. There were two young unmarried women in his clinic when the security forces stormed in on a dusty afternoon in Khartoum, five years ago. Both patients were pregnant, one with a three months old dead embryo in her uterus.

Abortion in Sudan

In 1991, Sudan amended its Penal Code to expand the circumstances under which abortions are permitted. Abortions are allowed in Sudan either to save a pregnant woman's life or if a woman is pregnant due to rape or incest. Illegal abortions are punishable by up to five years' imprisonment and/or a fine. The 1991 legislation applies mainly to the Islamic north, not to Christian Southern Sudan.

Statistics show that a very small percentage of adult married women in Sudan use modern contraception. The government says it supports contraception as a means of reducing the fertility rate as well as deaths and medical complications caused by induced abortion.

Sex before marriage
Pregnancy before marriage is devastating in Sudan's traditional society, not only for the woman, but for her entire extended family. Not surprisingly, in their attempts to end unwanted pregnancies desperate young women will do whatever it takes. This often sees them turning to traditional herbal healers, illiterate traditional midwives and even well-meaning but ill-prepared friends.

“The vast majority of them end up with a failed abortion and a dead embryo in the uterus threatening their life. Most of my patients were like this,” says Dr Ibrahim.

Sex before marriage is common place in Khartoum but there is a kind of official state of denial about it. “Safe sex and contraception for unmarried women is an untouchable topic in Khartoum,” says another physician, who prefers not to be named.

There's little discussion in broader society about the issue according to the physician. The government and religious establishment focus on moral and religious values without tackling the practical issues related to sex among young unmarried people.

There are no accurate statistics but indicators suggest that one in four women in Khartoum have sex before marriage. “But when pregnancy happens it is the woman alone who has to bear its consequences,’’ says Dr Ibrahim.

Media campaign
He studied gynaecology and surgery in Great Britain and practiced there for years before returning to Sudan. He says the court found him guilty of failing to report to the police and authorities that he was treating unmarried pregnant women. “That’s not a part of my duties and obligations towards my patients,” he counters.

Dr Ibrahim claims he was the victim of a campaign launched against him by the tabloid media and conservative religious forces. Once this campaign was up and running, he says, there was little room for rational debate. "It is regrettable that the Medical Council of Sudan preferred to keep silent,” he adds.

Rich
One of the allegations Dr Ibrahim faced was that he made a fortune by performing abortions. When this is put to him, he laughs. “Most of my patients were young poor female university students from rural backgrounds. For 12 years of my medical career in Sudan I treated half of my patients for free. Many of them got pregnant after being forced to have sex because they needed money. How can you get rich from this kind of patient?”

After being released, Dr Ibrahim is facing the threat of being banned from practicing his profession in the country, but he remains defiant. “That would be unfair,” he says. “I will continue my work in raising public awareness about safe sex and sex education in general. I have saved the lives of thousands of Sudanese women.’

 

Discussion

simsim 18 July 2013 - 7:30pm / Sudan

He was not doing abortions to save lives, it was for gaining money and he could never admit that. However; you can ask his victims in Sudan. They paid a lot for him in cash or in kind

Andrei Yudin 22 September 2011 - 5:01pm / Moscow,Russia

If a Dutch man,after having tried first to persuade and then to force the woman,who got pregnant from him and from whom he doesn't want to have children,to make an abortion, makes it by himself for example by kicking her pregnant belly and provoking a spontaneous abortion,he as well as his assistants who helped him to do that will be immediately put into jail.So what moral right do you have to criticize the sudanese authorities which jail those medecins who help sudanese women to make an abortion which is prohibited in sudan?abortion is not allowed for women in sudan but it is not allowed for men in Holland either.

Andrei Yudin 22 September 2011 - 3:31pm / Moscow,Russia

If a Dutch man after having tried to force the woman,who got pregnant from him and from he doesn't want to have children,to make an abortion makes it himself for example by kicking her pregnant belly and provoking a spontaneous abortion,he as well his assistants who helped him will be immediately put into jail.So what moral right do you have to criticize the sudanese authorities which jail those medecins who help sudanese women to make an abortion which is prohibited in sudan?abortion is not allowed for men in sudan but it is not allowed for men in Holland either.

Anonymous 20 September 2011 - 11:17pm

Abortion is a crime!!!!

Andei Yudin 20 September 2011 - 11:43pm / Moscow,Russia

Anonymous,if "abortion is a crime",as you said,against whom then?First of all,you should define what "abortion" is.If we consider as crime whatever elimination of a new life,in that case all women and all men who had sex already have eliminated new lives.
In my view,abortion is not a crime.It's just elimination of not wanted consequences of sexual life.
I would call shameful for such a developed country as Holland the wide-spread practice of men's sterilisation.Holland is the world's leader as regards sterilisation of men.Sterilisation is almost irreversible.The Dutch men should not get sterilised because they might change their opinion.In any case,it's better to eliminate the not wanted embryon than get sterilised forever.It's always better as well to eliminate the not wanted embryon than ruin one's own or somebody"s life because of such a trifle as embryon,abortion etc.

Anonymous 21 September 2011 - 4:53am

How to define a human being? It is a living organism with human DNA. A human fetus is a human being at an early stage of formation. Premeditating the killing of such a human being with the motive of benefiting from that death is MURDER. The crime is against a human being. In some of states in the U.S. a murder of a pregnant woman is charged as TWO MURDERS.

Andei Yudin 21 September 2011 - 10:03am / Moscow,Russia

Anonymous,of course,it's nonsense to charge the murder of a pregnant woman as double murder.
the human fetus is a new life with new DNA from the very moment of fecundation.So if from your point of view every killing of new life is a crime ALL people having sex are already guilty of killing new lives,not only those who made abortions,because the most effective contraceptives such as intautrine device,hormone-containing contraceptives etc. do not prevent fecundation.Thus,according to your logic,all people having sex are criminals.So if you don't want to kill new lives,don't have sex at all.
Even those people who want to have children and don't use any contraceptives are also guilty of killing new lives,because before one embryon develops inside the uterus,other embryons die not reaching the uterus or being rejected by the uterus (spontaneous micro-abortions).Hence,those people who want to have children before giving birth to them,as you said,"premiditate" the killing of new lives.No woman may boast of not having ever made abortions,because every woman had spontaneous micro-abortions.
That's why all that anti-abortion propaganda is stupid and anti-scientific.Either you should not have sex at all,or you are allowed to eliminate the not wanted embryon at any stage before the birth.

user avatar
Awesome Ted 21 September 2011 - 1:30am

Off topic, but you are confusing the Netherlands with New Zealand (which actually does boast the highest rate of vasectomies). So you can stop worrying about Dutch vasa deferentia.

Andei Yudin 21 September 2011 - 10:24am / Moscow,Russia

Awesome Ted,may be you're right about New Zealand and it's New Zealand which is the world's champion in sterilisation.All the worse and all shameful for that country which boasts a very high level life and at the same time makes its citizens of msculin sex to get sterilised instead of granting them the right to abortion.But Holland is the Europe's leader in sterilisation - 36 000 man's sterilisations every year (the figures adduced by Dr.Michael Vleugels).It's extremely shameful both for Holland and New Zealand.

user avatar
Awesome Ted 21 September 2011 - 11:12am

Not shameful. Responsible. Men forcing women to have abortions is an even worse concept than trying to force them not to. Women should be in charge of their own bodies just like men should be in charge of theirs. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a man deciding when he has had enough kids. Even if 'enough' means none.

Andei Yudin 21 September 2011 - 12:37pm / Moscow,Russia

Awesome Ted.Boys and girls at school should be educated in conformity with the principles of bio-ethics.They should realize that no one has the rigt to force her or him to have sex with him or her and that no one may impose on the other the not wanted consequences of a sexual intercourse.girls should become aware that if they are not ready to make an abortion on request of their sexual partners they should not have sex at all.

Andei Yudin 21 September 2011 - 12:22pm / Moscow,Russia

Awesome Ted,you've made the same logic mistake as the sudanese authorities did.they think it's up to them to decide whether a woman is allowed to make an abortion.the communists,kgb,military etc. in the ussr thought it was up to them to decide people's destinies.You think it's up to women to decide the destiny of a man.It's an erroneous way of thinking.

Andei Yudin 21 September 2011 - 12:02pm / Moscow,Russia

Awesome Ted.Are you aware that man's sexual cells,the gamets,are NOT a part of woman's body?No one should be allowed to use somebody's body or parts of somebody's body without his permission.This statement is absolutely fair and fully coresponds to bio-ethics.As a matter of fact,the legal condition of Dutch men is worse than that of sudanese women,because a sudanese woman if she doesn't want children from this or that man can make an abortion by herself by taking abortive medecines or just jumping etc.,whereas a Dutch man can't prevent the birth of a not wanted child in any way.
I found absolutely inhuman the practice of sterilisation both for men and women,because each of them might might change his mind.

user avatar
Awesome Ted 21 September 2011 - 12:34pm

That is ridiculous. Ejaculation means to give up control, in every way. If it's in her body, it becomes her domain. Suppose human women deposited their eggs into their males' pouches, like seahorses. Should these females have the right to force their partners to be operated upon, and the eggs removed, if they finally decided they didn't want kids? Would you consent to that? Be honest.
Adults should be in charge of their own bodies and not others'.

Andei Yudin 21 September 2011 - 1:14pm / Moscow,Russia

Awesome Ted,to illustrate the ridiculousness of your logic,just answer my question:let's imagine a woman making fellation to a man.After his ejaculation into her mouth without his permission she spit the sperm onto her palm and then put his sperm into her vagina and got pregnant from him.Do you think she has the right to use that man's sperm giving birth to a child not wanted by him,since according to your logic the ejaculation took place inside her body?

user avatar
Awesome Ted 21 September 2011 - 1:25pm

Absolutely. She can do anything she wants. The courts could decide whether he is responsible for support. But the man does not magically gain some authority over a woman just because they had sex.

Andei Yudin 21 September 2011 - 2:11pm / Moscow,Russia

It was a reductio ad absurdum on my part,but you swallowed the bait showing all the vulnerability of your logic.If we were talking in a court rather than here you would lose the case.It's a pure nonsense what you said that "the courts will decide whether he is responsible for support".Don't make laugh the sudanese themselves whom you criticize for the prohibition of abortion.You are not by no means better than them.

user avatar
Awesome Ted 21 September 2011 - 2:57pm

Ad hominem. You have made no valid point here.

Andei Yudin 21 September 2011 - 1:05pm / Moscow,Russia

Awesome Ted,if women do not like the fact that they are made by nature "deposts" of the fecudated eggs,let them lay claim to nature.
But coming back to the point,the sexual intercourse being a BILATERAL act of procreation,it is absolutely unfair that one side,that's women are given the full right to decide whether to eliminate what was given life by mutual contribution,whereas the other side is totally deprived of rights.The right to abortion should be like the right to divorce,it should be made on request of ether by man or by woman or by boh of them at the same time.

user avatar
Awesome Ted 21 September 2011 - 1:13pm

If a woman had the ability to force a man to have sex with her, and force him to accept her gametes, then intercourse would be bilateral. But neither is the case.
In the theoretical example, if you would refuse to have your ventral pouch under the control of a woman who gave you her eggs, then you do not believe in equality.

Andei Yudin 21 September 2011 - 1:24pm / Moscow,Russia

have you ever heard about cases of woman's raping men or forcing them to have sex with them?It's your problems.
If you don't want juridical equality between men and women as regards abortion,if you are talking not from the moral point of view but from that of force,you have no moral right to accuse the sudanese authorities of not allowng abortion to women.they too talk from the force point of view.

user avatar
Awesome Ted 21 September 2011 - 1:33pm

Perhaps you should find those news articles about men being victimised by fertile rapists. You can post links to them in these comment pages. But I don't believe they exist.
I'm not advocating force at all. You are the one who speaks of forcing women to do things. I keep saying that women should be in charge of their bodies and what is in them.

Andei Yudin 21 September 2011 - 2:23pm / Moscow,Russia

I am an ordinary man rather than general prosecutor of the russian federation.At the moment,I can't adduce you exact names and facts about sexual harassment and rape accomplished by women against men.But believe me there are a good deal of such cases.
By the way,you've mentioned seahorses,but do you happen to know that killing and eating males during and after sexual intercourse made by females is very often with insects?Who,do you think,would beat and rape whom,if human females were on the average bigger and stronger than males?

user avatar
Awesome Ted 21 September 2011 - 2:53pm

Since you won't honestly respond to any of my challenges, I won't respond to any more of yours, no matter how ridiculous. You've made it clear that you feel men should hold dominion over women's bellies. I disagree.
The article is about how Sudanese women should have access to abortion. On that we agree. Your imperious attitudes about male sexuality and pregnancy are not relevant here. Do svidanija.

Andei Yudin 21 September 2011 - 3:07pm / Moscow,Russia

bye-bye.I never said that the sudanese women should have free access to abortion.I said both men and women should be granted the equal right to abortion.
Besides that,whatever you say has no sense because you are not a man,not "Ted",but just a disguised woman.I could speak on behalf of women under a nickname for example "Laura" arguing for the man's right to abortion just like you did,but it's below my human and man's dignity.It goes without saying,who of us is superior including from the moral point of view.

Andei Yudin 21 September 2011 - 12:49pm / Moscow,Russia

Awesome Ted,let's not discuss what might be as regards seahorses.We are human beings though,having moral feelings and moral values at that.As for your assertion that a man is no longer the master of his own sexual cells after ejaculation,with the same reason you may say that after the birth a child is no longer of that woman becaue it is already out of her body.

user avatar
Awesome Ted 21 September 2011 - 12:58pm

Precisely. Which is why abortion is acceptable and killing newborn babies is not. Babies are conscious people with rights.

Anonymous 20 September 2011 - 6:33pm

It is illegal in most Asian countries.The girls need to be more careful of what they are doing, they aren't kids,and killing fetuses isn't a great job that the Dr. should be lauded..

Andei Yudin 21 September 2011 - 1:37pm / Moscow,Russia

Anonymous,by the way,those communist chinese authorities are quite stupid.Otherwise they would grant the right to abortion to their men.That would reduce the number of births considerably and in that case china will be the most advanced country in the world in this respect.Indeed,who will be then considered to be the "most advanced country",Holland and New Zealand which practically force their citizens of masculin sex to get sterilised out of fear for undesired pregnancy or china where every man is able to compel the woman who got pregnant from him to make an abortion?

Andei Yudin 21 September 2011 - 12:12am / Moscow,Russia

The only country in the world where forced abortion is practiced is china.But it's not because the chinese communists respect man's right to abortion.they don't care about any rights of their citizens.It's just because the chinese communist authorities pursue the "one-child policy".If for example the daughter of a chinese communist ganbu (official) gets pregnant from a common chinese the latter will never give a hint that she make an abortion out of fear.

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