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Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit



Tuesday 1 December

4.30–6.00 ZOOM

Mari Valdur

University of Helsinki

Dying of Informality, Dying without Sociality? Abortion Biznes in Ulaanbaatar

Induced abortion in Mongolia is legal yet often carried out by non-certified means. In 2014 a woman was taken to hospital in serious condition after self-medicating with abortion pills, and consequently more women came forward with having experienced complications. Five women were reported to have died as a result of abortifacients that year. Focusing on a market in Ulaanbaatar, a raid was carried out and the sellers of the medication were prosecuted. As part of the mainstream public and nationalist discourse it has been suggested that the prevalence of abortion overall owes to it having become biznes. ‘Business’ here refers to the lack of accountability, issues of morality and monetary gain, as well as temporal tropes such as the ‘recent era’, ‘age of the market’ and ‘democracy’. However, at the market where the abortifacients were sold, the reflection on the aftermaths of the 2014 raid brought forth a number of alternative approaches to providing abortion medication, and having abortions. Here immediate and trustworthy communication verifies information and a safe abortion, rather than any ‘formal’ means going about securing it. Abortions are legitimised by personal and proximate experiences of a safe abortion, trying socioeconomic circumstances and helping those experiencing an unwanted pregnancy. The abortion market reveals a non-horizontal and gendered space of legitimisation rather than manifesting an overarching informal condition. This space comes into encounters with the informalities of law enforcement and the healthcare system in specific ways, which contribute towards understanding why abortion’s legality does not directly correlate to abortion’s safety in Ulaanbaatar.

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Tuesday, 1 December, 2020 - 16:30 to 18:00
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