Age-old prescriptions

Arabic erotica through the ages is full of practical advice on unwanted pregnancy. “There are countless ways to lead to abortion and the expulsion of a fetus from a mother’s belly,” wrote Shaykh Nafzawi in Al Rawd Al ‘Atir fi Nuzhat Al Khatir, The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight in the 15th century. Among his suggestions were fumigating the vagina with burnt cabbage or drinking a mixture of cinnamon and red myrrh, which, when combined with a vaginal suppository of the same, “kills the fetus and provokes expulsion, with the permission of God, the Greatest.”