During the early 1990s, global health experts developed a new model of emergency obstetric care: post-abortion care or PAC. In developing countries with restrictive abortion laws and where NGOs relied on US family planning aid, PAC offered an apolitical approach to addressing the consequences of unsafe abortion. In Dying to Count, Siri Suh traces how national and global population politics collide in Senegal as health workers, health officials, and NGO workers strive to demonstrate PAC’s effectiveness in the absence of rigorous statistical evidence that the intervention reduces maternal mortality. Suh argues that pragmatically assembled PAC data convey commitments to maternal mortality reduction goals while obscuring the frequency of unsafe abortion and the inadequate care women with complications are likely to receive if they manage to reach a hospital. At a moment when African women face the highest risk worldwide of death from complications related to pregnancy, birth, or abortion, Suh’s ethnography of PAC in Senegal makes a critical contribution to studies of global health, population and development, African studies, and reproductive justice.
About the Author
SIRI SUH is an assistant professor of sociology at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
"In this fascinating account, Siri Suh describes how tools, policies, institutions, and data come together in Senegal to make post-abortion care into 'good care.' PAC suits policy-makers' needs for targets, funders' demands for metrics, and clinicians' interests in misclassifying abortions. With devastating analytical and moral clarity, Suh shows that there’s almost nothing PAC cannot do—except put women’s dignity and interests first." — Claire Wendland
"This is a magnificent book. Feminist scholar Siri Suh has written an exquisitely detailed and meticulously researched account of the introduction and use of post-abortion care in Senegal during the late 20th and early 21st century. By taking a clearheaded and compassionate look at maternal health and abortion politics in Senegal, Suh draws attention to the fact that as long as there are restrictive abortion laws women need PAC, no matter where they are living. What a superb addition to global health scholarship!" — Susan Bell
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