Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies

Article Title

A Comparative Study of Reproductive Law: An Analysis of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Malaysia


Meena Ansari


This paper examines the implementation of Islamic law in three Muslim-majority countries: Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Malaysia and their restrictions on birth control methods. All three countries criminalize routine abortions contrary to the law of the two most populous Muslim sects - Sunnis and Shias. The implementation of Islamic law in modern countries reflects the thriving patriarchal culture in those states rather than religious doctrine. This patriarchal interpretation of reproductive law leads to illegal and unsafe abortions, childhood development issues, and increased risk of gynecological malignancies. However, the Qur’an is inherently egalitarian, pro-sexuality, and interpretation-friendly, but is rarely read in this manner. The author argues that a feminist interpretation of the Qur’an can expose the historically patriarchal restrictions on birth control laws, which may emphasize the constructed beliefs that act against the scripture. Putting forth this understanding may lead to a reconsideration towards following the intentions of the divine, and may encourage jurists to adopt a more gender-equal approach to birth control and abortion laws in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Malaysia.