Reuters reports that politically active women in Saudi Arabia plan to drive on October 26, 2013, as a protest against the country's policy of granting licenses only to men. The planned protest has drawn criticism from conservative Saudis, including Muslim cleric Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan. Bin Saad al-Lohaidan is quoted as saying, "If a woman drives a car [...] that could have negative physiological impacts as functional and medical studies show that it automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upwards." However, he did not cite any such medical studies.
Indeed, a search of PubMed reveals no such studies, and it is difficult to imagine how sitting in the driver's seat of a car would be more harmful than, for example, sitting at a desk. The only articles indexed by PubMed regarding cards and gynecological injury involve a two-year-old female injured in a car accident (as a passenger, not a driver) and damage to female reproductive systems from hexavalent chromium pollution emitted by automobiles' catalytic converters. Pollution of drinking water and air with hexavalent chromium can be highly damaging to women's health, including "abnormal menses, postnatal hemorrhage, and birth complications," according to researchers from Texas. Concern about women's health would likely be more profitably addressed to ensuring that automobile-sourced pollutants do not find their way into air and water, and to making vehicles safer for passengers as well as drivers.
Sheikh Abdulatif Al al-Sheikh, a Saudi authority on moral law, tells Reuters that nothing in sharia forbids women driving, and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has indicated a willingness to expand employment opportunities for women in his country. It remains to be seen whether women will be permitted to drive to these new jobs.