5: Abortion in Malaysia: challenges and necessity

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This chapter situates the positioning of abortion in Malaysia, a Muslim majority country, within a broader examination of women’s rights and health status in the country. Evidence is examined as to the accessibility of sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion, and to related matters such as comprehensive sexuality education. In tracing the impact of colonial laws and the Islamic revivalism in the 1980s, the authors observe that, while the legal framework provides for abortion services, conservative interpretations of religious texts impede women the right to self-determination on the matter of pregnancy and abortion. The chapter examines the work by organisations such as Sisters in Islam and other non-governmental organisations in raising awareness and advocate on sexual reproductive health and rights issues in a highly regulated moral and religious-conscious society.

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