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Abortion in Asia: Local Dilemmas, Global Politics

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Volume 20

Fertility, Reproduction and Sexuality: Social and Cultural Perspectives

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Abortion in Asia

Local Dilemmas, Global Politics

Edited by Andrea Whittaker

270 pages, 20 ills, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-734-1 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (July 2010)

ISBN  978-0-85745-795-0 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (December 2012)

eISBN 978-1-84545-975-8 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $29.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“[This book] makes an empirically rich and important contribution to social scientific scholarship on induced abortion practices and will hopefully inspire further studies.”  ·  Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale

“…although there is a wealth of commonalities, these papers present the context as crucial. The contributors make good use of women’s personal stories to invigorate the discussion of the many dilemmas. The women’s stories also demonstrate the extent to which local initiatives may be compromised by global influences, as exemplified by short sighted religious campaigns and the resulting donor/aid restrictions. The contributors’ focus on Asia actually makes this book more applicable, even germane, to women’s health care internationally.” · The Practicing Midwife

This book is a comprehensive volume on abortion in South and Southeast Asia. Readers will benefit from this informative volume in gaining a bird’s eye view of the heated debate and local realities in these regions.  ·  Asian Anthropology

The contributions make it a significantly important reference book for the areas of politics of reproduction, gender, and development, as well as gender, culture, and health. It would be particularly useful in medical anthropology in public health, anthropology and reproductive health, as well as gender and health courses.  ·  Medical Anthropology Quarterly

“Abortion in Asia offers rich insight into abortion policies and women’s reproductive-health experiences in Asia’s developing countries… Scholars interested in gender, reproductive health, abortion, and policies concerning these topics will find [this book] relevant, as will advocates, NGO workers, and policymakers. [It]provides useful insights for practitioners and advocates of safe and accessible abortion provision. Chapters on political processes aiming at legal reforms and policy implementation will be particularly useful for political scientists and advocates working toward the advancement of abortion rights in a variety of settings.  ·  Studies in Family Planning

The book aims to spark a dialogue between academics and advocates, and between anthropology and public health.”  ·  IIAS (International Institute for Asian Studies) Newsletter


The issue of abortion forces a confrontation with the effects of poverty and economic inequalities, local moral worlds, and the cultural and social perceptions of the female body, gender, and reproduction. Based on extensive original field research, this provocative collection presents case studies from Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and India. It includes powerful insight into the conditions and hard choices faced by women and the circumstances surrounding unplanned pregnancies. It explores the connections among poverty, violence, barriers to access, and the politics and strategies involved in abortion law reform. The contributors analyze these issues within the broader conflicts surrounding women's status, gender roles, religion, nationalism and modernity, as well as the global politics of reproductive health.

Andrea Whittaker is Associate Professor in the School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Australia. Her previous publications include Intimate Knowledge: Women and their health in North-east Thailand (2000), Women’s Health in South-east Asia (edited, 2002) and Abortion, Sin, and the State in Thailand (2004). Her current research interests focus on infertility and reproductive tourism and medical travel in Thailand and the region.

Subject: Anthropology (General) Medical Anthropology
Area: Asia Asia-Pacific


List of Tables and Figures
List of Appendices
List of Contributors

Chapter 1: Abortion in Asia: an overview
Andrea Whittaker

Chapter 2: Contraceptive use and unsafe abortion in rural Cambodia
Elizabeth Hoban, Tung Rathavy and Phirun Lam

Chapter 3: Between remembering and forgetting: Post-diagnostic abortions in Hanoi, Vietnam
Tine M. Gammeltoft

Chapter 4: Violence, Poverty and ‘Weakness’- Interpersonal and institutional reasons why Burmese women on the Thai border utilise abortion
Suzanne Belton

Chapter 5: Quality of care and pregnancy terminations for adolescent women in urban slums, Bangladesh
Sabina Faiz Rashid

Chapter 6: Choosing abortion providers in rural Tamil Nadu: Balancing costs and quality of care
Lakshmi Ramachandar and Pertti J Pelto

Chapter 7: Abortion in Vietnam: History, culture and politics collide in the era of doi moi
Merrill Wolf, Phan Bich Thuy, Alyson Hyman and Amanda Huber

Chapter 8: Abortion and politics in Indonesia
Terence H Hull and Ninuk Widyantoro

Chapter 9: Barriers to access to abortion services in Malaysia: Misinformation and stigma
Rashidah Abdullah and Yut-Lin Wong

Chapter 10: Improving access to safe termination of pregnancy in Thailand: An analysis of the policy development during 1999 to 2006
Nongluk Boonthai, Sripen Tantivess, Viroj Tangcharoensathien and Kamheang Chaturachinda

Chapter 11: Epilogue: Further challenges
Andrea Whittaker


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