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Abortions more common in Arab countries

June 29, 2008 at 1:45 AM

BEIRUT, Lebanon, June 29 (UPI) -- Abortion is becoming more common in Arab countries as young people marry later and engage in premarital sex, family planning officials say.

While Islam bans abortion except when a pregnancy is the result of forcible rape or continuing the pregnancy would put the mother's life or health at risk, the public is becoming more tolerant, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"There's definitely an increase compared to 10 to 15 years ago," said Mohammed Graigaa, head of the Moroccan Association for Family Planning. "Abortion is much less of a taboo. It's much more visible. Doctors talk about it. Women talk about it. The moral values of people have changed."

One recent poll by WorldPublicOpinion.org found that more than half of Egyptians, Iranians and Palestinians say abortion should be legal. The United Nations estimates one in 10 pregnancies in North Africa and the Middle East ends in abortion, half the U.S. rate.

Because abortions are illegal in most circumstances, many are performed by midwives or so-called back-alley practitioners.

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