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Medical Anthropology Quarterly

The “Amazing” Fertility Decline: Islam, Economics, and Reproductive Decision Making among Working-Class Moroccan Women

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Abstract

Often it is understood that Islam prohibits family planning because the Qur’an does not explicitly address contraception. Public health and development officials have recently congratulated the Muslim world for decreases in fertility given the supposed constraints placed on reproductive healthcare by Islam, while popular culture writers have warned the West of threats by young Muslims if the population goes uncontrolled. This article draws on data collected through interviews with working-class women seeking reproductive healthcare at clinics in Rabat, Morocco, and with medical providers to challenge the link between Islamic ideology and reproductive practices and the correlation among Islam, poverty, and fertility. Morocco, a predominantly Muslim country, has experienced a dramatic decrease in fertility between the 1970s and today. I argue that patients and providers give new meanings to modern reproductive practices and produce new discourses of reproduction and motherhood that converge popular understandings of Islam with economic conditions of the Moroccan working class. [Islam; family planning; Morocco; maternal health; economics]

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