Access to sexual and reproductive health and safe abortion without discrimination it’s a human right and the only one that has a pronounced gender bias. However, this is one of the most haunted in the world. Around the world, restrictions and bans are forcing millions of women to risk their health and even their lives to have an abortion in clandestine and unsafe conditions.
According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), annually There are about 73 million abortions worldwide. and 61% of unwanted pregnancies (that is, six out of ten) are terminated voluntarily. Nearly half of induced abortions (45%) between 2010 and 2014 “were unsafe.” Of these, the third part took place in conditions of “great danger”.
Most countries, but especially those called developing countries, still have very strict laws regarding voluntary termination of pregnancy or total ban.
Despite these laws, as various studies have emphasized over the years and condemned by human rights organizations, the number of abortions has not decreased. The establishment of barriers and prohibitions on abortion has never reduced the number of abortions.on the contrary, they cause an increase in unsafe practices and without medical supervision, which lead to an increase in women’s health problems or their death.
As WHO emphasizes, unsafe abortion, although preventable, is one of the leading causes of maternal death. Especially among the most vulnerable women.
When it is not possible to terminate a pregnancy, women resort to any method available to them, from sticking knitting needles or hangers into the uterususe plants or chemical products that abort a pregnancy, or use untrained professionals to perform an abortion.
Risks associated with this practice include incomplete abortions, bleeding, infections, uterine perforations, or damage to the reproductive system. In many countries women end up in jail on abortion charges, even if they’ve had miscarriages.
As various experts explain, banning this practice in the criminal code instead of regulating it in medical procedures has a high cost for women all over the world. Our country does not avoid this practice. While abortion is free until the 14th week of pregnancy and may be medically recommended between that date and the 22nd week, it is illegal after this period. Late pregnancies that pose a risk to the fetus or mother must be resolved by a medical court, which, according to some organizations, does not have a clearly defined composition or authority.
There are numerous cases in our country when women, mainly due to fetal malformations, should be able to have an abortion after the 22nd week. Sometimes this intervention is rejected by the medical court. The only solution they find is to go abroad (to Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK and even France) to terminate a pregnancy. Professionals who perform such abortions in Spain face prison terms and loss of license to practice, while women can be fined.
“It is a very harsh reality for these women who travel alone and have to pay the costs and cope with the emotional consequences alone and without support. All in all, these are welcome pregnancies,” says Silvia Aldavert, political scientist and coordinator of the Association for Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Catalonia.
Sexual and reproductive rights organizations demand that the only punishment to be retained in the Criminal Code is which criminalizes abortions against a woman’s will. Canada is the only country that does not include abortion in its penal code, and recently Mexico’s Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling, declared it unconstitutional to punish women who have abortions.
Minors over 16 years old
Another punishment provided by law is Prohibition on access of minors over the age of 16 to termination of pregnancy without parental permission. The 2010 PSOE law allowed them to have an abortion without said permission in cases where it was not possible, but the People’s Party removed it from the norm in 2015. “We saw how in Spain there have been clandestine or unregulated abortions among 16- and 17-year-olds since 2015 and this fact cannot be denied,” warns Aldavert.
“The ban on abortion for minors under 16 and 17 years of age has ended in very serious cases, such as the case of a young woman who threw the body of a child into the Besos River and who had previously applied to the city council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat. for help with an abortion,” says Aldavert. “This is a failure of society. Many lives are destroyed, including theirs,” he adds.
Another group that has problems accessing abortion are women who do not have a medical card or in an unusual administrative situation. Although they usually do not have access to clandestine or unsafe abortions, they face significant barriers and seek other solutions or end up in private clinics where they have to pay for not having access to health care or believing they are not eligible. . “Paying for an abortion out of your own pocket means a widening gap in the feminization of poverty. Public policy cannot be made to think about morality or abstract discourses.but they have to be based on real people,” Aldavert explains.
For this expert, and for organizations working in the field of sexual and reproductive rights, the removal of abortion from the criminal code is key. Aldavert regrets that in this new law the government is proposing, the need for decriminalization has not been put on the table. “This is one of the demands of the feminist movement, and in some ways we see that it was a missed opportunity to decriminalize abortion. Every opportunity should be used to the maximum, because these rights are always in danger of being regressed. a right that is always threatened,” concludes Aldavert.
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