When the city painted over this abortion rights mural, artists got creative.

Dara K, an Irish graffiti artist, did his own interpretation of the mural. Image from Dara K/Facebook

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'We can't keep painting over our problems.'

July 29, 2016
By Ally Hirschlag

All over Ireland, you can find graffiti murals honoring important historic fights, but few have been as controversial as this one.

"Repeal the 8th," a red heart declares.

It's a reference to the eighth amendment of the Irish constitution, which "acknowledges the right to life of the unborn" and is often cited as the origin of Ireland's incredibly strict anti-abortion laws.

"[Ireland has] come from such a Catholic situation, and there’s a lot of scare-mongering involved, the people are afraid to talk about it at all," Andrea Horan, founder of the organization behind the mural, The HunReal Issues, said. "We wanted to put up a piece that would start conversations."

To do that, Horan asked well-known Irish artist Maser to create a mural on the side of Dublin's Project Arts Center (which often sports somewhat controversial artistic messages) in the hope that a public, political statement would gain more attention from the masses.

[continued at link]

Source: Upworthy.com

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‘My baby’s remains in a cardboard box’: Irish GP’s abortion story

Dr Lara Kelly says she is in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. Photograph: Enda O’Dowd

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Politicians ‘should speak to the women who have gone through it’, says Dr Lara Kelly

Fri, Jul 29, 2016, 11:50

An Irish GP has spoken of the trauma of returning the foetal remains of her baby from England after she was forced her to travel to Liverpool to terminate her pregnancy.

Dr Lara Kelly is one of the first members of the Irish medical profession to speak publicly about travelling to the UK for an abortion. The 35-year-old said her decision to speak out was motivated by the blocking of a Bill in the Dáil earlier this month that would have allowed for abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.

Dr Kelly and her husband, Mark, learned in March that their baby’s brain had not developed properly, that it only had half of a heart, and that it would die shortly after birth.

After receiving confirmation from their consultant around Easter, they travelled to a Liverpool clinic, where the termination took place a fortnight before their first wedding anniversary.

Dr Kelly wanted to take the foetal remains home to be cremated, a process she described as traumatic and unfair.

“The Tottenham Hotspur football team were staying at our hotel,” Dr Kelly said. “I remember carrying the remains past the entire Spurs squad. It was the weirdest thing, walking past them and some of their fans in the packed lobby.

“There was me with my little plastic bag and the baby’s remains in a cardboard box. It was just so bizarre passing by the players with the remains of our baby under my arm.”

At Liverpool airport, Dr Kelly and her husband decided to carry the remains on to the plane, rather than have them placed in the hold, in case the luggage went missing. Passing through security brought on further trauma, she said.

“We were queuing at security for ages and I wasn’t feeling physically great after the procedure the day before,” she said. “When we got to the top we said to the security guy that we had to declare foetal remains. The guy said, ‘What?’ He didn’t seem to understand and so we said it out loud again. He didn’t know what foetal remains meant so Mark said, ‘It’s a baby in the box’, and the man said out loud, ‘A baby in the box?’ Half the queue heard that, probably some of those who were getting on our flight to Dublin heard that.”

Ordeal

The whole experience was an ordeal, she said. “People – from the hotel clerk to the taxi man taking us to the clinic – kept asking us what we were doing over in Liverpool. Having to avoid those questions was the start of it all feeling so unfair.

“I didn’t even let the taxi drop us right outside the clinic and instead got out before the entrance further down the road. It was all about keeping it secret and to ourselves. I wasn’t questioning what I was going to do, I just didn’t want people to know. We had to lie to people about why we were really over in Liverpool, a series of lies and I couldn’t stop. You lied because you were supposed to lie.”

Dr Kelly and her husband said they had not taken the decision to have an abortion lightly. “We discussed the termination and we felt it was absolutely the best decision for us,” she said. “This was very much a wanted baby. It was an enormous decision that we took very seriously.”

According to statistics compiled by the UK’s department of health between 1980 and 2015, at least 165,438 Irish women and girls accessed UK abortion services. Last year, the figure was 3,451.

However, the Irish Family Planning Association pointed out that these figures underestimate the real numbers, as not all women will provide Irish addresses for reasons of confidentiality. Thousands of other Irish women access abortion through pills bought online, the IFPA said.

Two incidents from Dr Kelly’s experience bore out the high numbers. When Dr Kelly found the website for the clinic in Liverpool that dealt with fatal foetal causes, she noticed there was a specific section called Travelling from Ireland.

“Bizarrely, the terminations are cheaper for women coming from Ireland because they are mindful about the costs of going over to England,” Dr Kelly said. “It shows how many Irish women use their services.”

On her way back to Dublin, Dr Kelly approached a member of staff at Liverpool airport to ask for advice about travelling with foetal remains. “The girl was Irish as it happened and she said something astonishing to me. ‘It’s fine,’ she said. ‘You need to go over to the gentleman at customs and declare the remains at security. It’s fine, I did it a few weeks ago.’ That’s what she said to me. It was said with such normality because she had done it herself.”

After landing in Dublin the couple drove straight to a funeral home. Once home, Dr Kelly was upfront about her termination within her wider family, who she said supported her decision fully.

However, she said she would have preferred to have had the termination in her home city, adding: “I could have gone to my local hospital that morning, I could have been with my mum and dad recovering that night after it; in my own bed under supervision of my own doctor. I was made to get on a plane to go to a different country because I was not allowed to be here.”

Dr Kelly supports demands by pro-choice campaigners for a referendum aimed at abolishing the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

Dr Kelly said her experience underlined the need to abolish the Amendment. “I would like the people of this country to have the right to vote on this. Give us our referendum. None of the people of my generation got to speak in 1983. I was 18 months old the last time this was voted on,” she said.

“As for politicians, I would say to them that I have a story and they should speak to the women who have gone through it instead of just exporting the problem.”

Source: Irish Times

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Uganda: Over 300 Abortion Cases Recorded in Five Months – Police

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29 July 2016
By Flavia Nassaka

From January to May, the police recorded 325 cases related to abortion yet last year 1800 cases were recorded. In 2014, 1600 cases were recorded. These statistics were revealed by Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga during the launch of a report dubbed, 'Facing Uganda's Law on Abortion' in Kampala on July 28. Launched by health Civil Society Organizations - Center for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) and the Center for Reproductive Rights, the report is a compilation of experiences of women and health service providers when they were faced with the challenge of abortion.

He said despite laws' criminalizing it, abortion remains a grim reality with most of the scenarios arising from bitter relationships.

"These are just a few that are reported. These people rarely come to police except when there is a death or major injury involved," he said adding that even those that go to police, after investigations only a few cases proceed to court.

Ministry of Health statistics indicate that 343 per 100,000 women who go to give birth die in the process. 26% of these are due to unsafe abortion. According to Dr. Charles Kiggundu, a Consultant Obstetrician Gynecologist at Mulago national referral hospital, 10,000 abortions are handled every year at the hospital where women who have terminated pregnancies are assessed and treated. He said the biggest barrier to accessing abortion is access to the service itself. "Some hospitals don't have the facilities, others the training and others the staff. Others may have all that in place but require a woman to fill in a police form before they can access the service. No woman will agree to sign it."

Prof. Anthony Mbonye, Ag. Director General of Health Services at the Ministry of Health said to tackle unnecessary deaths arising out of terminating pregnancies, he had proposed to introduce Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) a safe medical procedure where a woman can end a pregnancy up to 12 weeks into it while still in the reproductive health department but this never came to pass. He recommends that women who get pregnant as a result of rape, violence or incest should be allowed to terminate it.

Without a law on abortion in place however, Mbonye said focus should be put on prevention now that women can access free contraceptives at government hospitals and cheaply in private facilities. Currently access stands at 30%. Still about 850,000 women get unwanted pregnancies every year.

Source: AllAfrica

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Malawi Council of Churches backs safe abortion, drills faith leaders

Dr Kuchingale: Unsafe abortion is second leading cause of maternal death in Malawi

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July 29, 2016 Maurice Nkawihe- Nyasa Times

Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) has expressed optimism that the faith community will endorse the reformed abortion laws and policies to ensure women and girls, mostly from poor families, are not dying of unsafe abortions complications.

According to statistics, Malawi has one of the highest Maternal Mortality Ratios in the world with 675 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies, and unsafe abortion contributes about 17 percent of the deaths.

Restrictive abortion laws and policies have been forcing woman and girls to seek unsafe abortion services from untrained people with figures showing that about 70,000 women have abortions in Malawi every year translating into 24 abortions for every 1,000 women aged between 15 and 44.

In an interview with Nyasa Times on Thursday during a two-day Religious Leaders Dialogue on Maternal Health, Human Rights and Abortion Law Reform in Mangochi, MCC General Secretary Bishop Doctor Gilford Immanuel Matonga was optimistic that the faith community will back the reformed abortion laws yet to be tabled in Parliament.

“It is necessary for the church to consider adding new grounds on which safe abortions can be allowed. We would want to sensitize faith community on grounds to provide for safe abortions,” said Bishop Matonga.

He added: “The Proposed bill gives guidance on how safe abortions can be done. After being properly informed, the church will be able to approve. The problem is that the faith community was not well communicated. People think the church is forcing leaders to endorse the bill. There is a need for leaders to be fully informed, and I believe they will endorse the bill”.

However, Matonga was quick to point out that the church stand will remain the same on free-for-all abortions, saying the faith community will only support safe abortions with restrictions.

“The church opposes abortion on demand; meaning if a woman is pregnant should not just seek abortion at free will. The proposed law gives three grounds on why abortion can be done. One is when she is raped, when her life is threatened by the pregnancy and on incest thus when a child is impregnated by a family member. But also when there is a malformation of the fetus- no proper development of the child in the womb”.

The two-day meeting was aimed at informing religious leaders on the proposed law to ensure they add value to the discussion from an informed position but also to have dialogue as church leaders on the magnitude of unsafe abortion.

Bishop Matonga said the meeting helped to address issues of maternal health; human rights and proposed law on unsafe abortions since there have been a lot of comments made and issues discussed out of ignorance.

“Usually unsafe abortion is associated with prostitutes and women of immoral conduct, but most of our members are inducing self abortions. Unsafe abortions are becoming a drain on the economy.

“The church has to look for ways how to help to reduce deaths of unsafe abortions, improve communication of information on dangers of unsafe abortions, and contribute to what is being proposed in the new bill as faith community. Church says determines what politicians do”.

Guest speaker to the meeting was Medical Association of Malawi president gynecologist Dr Edgar Kuchingale who highlighted the magnitude of unsafe abortions in Malawi, saying the reformed law will protect lives of poor women and girls who cannot afford proper medical care.

“People mostly doing unsafe abortions are married and they are church members. And most of the women that are dying of unsafe abortions are rural and poor. Nowadays it’s rare to see rich women dying of unsafe abortion because the situation has changed now,” said Kuchingale.

Kuchingale said the situation in the country is still worse in as far as unsafe abortions are concerned, disclosing that more than 50 percent of women do not use family planning methods resulting in unwanted pregnancies.

And Bishop Matonga agreed with Kuchingale saying, the church is not communicating well to its members on available contraceptives.

According to statistics, about 31, 000 Malawian women are treated for complications of unsafe abortion annually; 50 percent are young girls below 25 years of age while 80 percent are married women and 64 percent are rural girls and women.

Women in Malawi, according to information, seek abortions due to poverty and inability to support more children; the desire of young girls to remain in school; extra-marital pregnancy; partner insistence and parental insistence. They also seek abortion after getting pregnancy from prostitution and when the pregnancy is too close to the previous pregnancy and also pregnancy that is the result of defilement, rape or incest.

Others abort to avoid being expelled from the Church or restrictions in work policies on maternity leave or restrictions in private medical insurance schemes and also when the relationship is abusive.

In Malawi approximately 70,000 women have abortions every year and 30,000 of those women are treated for complications of unsafe abortion. Public run health care facilities spend about US$300,000-US$500,000 annually in caring for post-abortion care implications.

Source: Nyasa Times, Malawi

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Abortion banned by controversial Mexican state governor

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David Agren in Mexico City
@el_reportero

Friday 29 July 2016 02.30 BST

Activists accuse Governor Javier Duarte of ignoring massive crime problems in Veracruz as he pushes through bill to outlaw abortion in all circumstances

The six-year term of Veracruz state governor Javier Duarte has been marked by controversy.

The six-year term of Veracruz state governor Javier Duarte has been marked by controversy. Photograph: Roger López for the Guardian

A controversial Mexican state governor has pushed through a draconian anti-abortion bill as his term comes to a close. Lawmakers in Veracruz state approved a constitutional amendment on Thursday to “protect life from conception” – effectively outlawing abortion in all circumstances.

“I congratulate legislators of the Veracruz legislature for saying yes to life,” Governor Javier Duarte tweeted after the vote.

Abortion laws have been liberalised in Mexico City – and upheld by the supreme court in 2008 – but at least 18 states have subsequently approved laws or constitutional amendments outlawing the procedure.

Veracruz’s ban will become effective after a majority of the state municipalities approve the measure – likely to be a formality as most are controlled by Duarte’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

Duarte has cut a controversial course throughout his six-year term as governor of Veracruz, on Mexico’s Gulf Coast, attracting accusations of thuggery, misappropriating public money and showing a crushing indifference to the murders of at least 19 journalists. Press freedom organisation the Committee to Protect Journalists has called Veracruz “the most lethal place for the press in the western hemisphere”.

Reproductive rights groups questioned the governor’s priorities given Veracruz’s problems with crime and hundreds of missing persons – a problem so severe citizen brigades have been combing the state in search of clandestine graves.

“What this means is that the governor cares more about life in gestation than the hundreds of disappeared persons in his state,” the Information Group on Reproductive Choice said via Twitter.

The state’s Catholic bishops and evangelical leaders – groups reticent to criticise Duarte during his troubled tenure – openly lobbied for the abortion ban and said the governor had promised to act on the issue.

The vote in Veracruz came the day after Duarte made his net worth public. An investigative report by news organisation Animal Politico found the Veracruz government had awarded 645 million pesos ($34m) in contracts to shell companies linked with close associates.

Duarte denies any wrongdoing. He had proposed a package of “protection” laws, which would have allowed him appoint anti-corruption magistrates to serve during the term of his successor, who won election in June on a platform of putting corrupt politicians in prison.

Source: The Guardian

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South Africa: Illegal abortion posters fill Durban

Photo: supplied People are urged to say ‘no’ illegal abortions.

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2016-07-28 06:00
Valene.Govender

As you walk around the streets of Durban it is impossible not to notice street-pole posters advertising “free and cheap” abortions.

Posters advertising “cheap abortion, one day, no pain” are common and with the increase in teenage pregnancy many don’t struggle for business.

Communication and marketing head of Marie Stopes South Africa (MSSA), Andrea Thompson said: “A market for illegal and unsafe abortion providers has been created and flyers advertising 'safe, pain-freer, quick and cheap abortions' litter the streets.

“These illegal abortion providers target disadvantaged, vulnerable women and put their lives at risk.”

Coastal Weekly reporter contacted one of the clinics to find out how it operates and a staff member, who did not want to be identified, said: “We do the job in one day by giving them liquid medication to drink, which will terminate the baby. It makes the job difficult when you are four months pregnant so that's why we charge a higher price.”

Thompson said unsafe terminations are more likely to lead to hemorrhaging, septicaemia, organ damage, tetanus, sterility, and even death and varying methods, including drinking mixtures and inserting objects or instruments into the womb.

“Early warning signs of incomplete and unsafe terminations are fever, shivering, smelly discharge, haemorrhaging, lower extreme abdominal pain, high temperature and anaemia.” MSSA sees the consequences of illegal abortions in their clinics every day and run educational programmes and outreach projects to educate women on their rights to access safe and legal termination of pregnancy.

She advises women seeking a pregnancy termination to look for a brand like Marie Stopes or ask at the Department of Health about approved clinics.

“Look for a landline number and not just a cellphone number and inquire about the practitioner’s after-hours contact details in case of emergency.

“They [pregnant woman] must also get counselling, which will provide them with all the information.

“Patients should not pay until they are satisfied with the service and get a receipt and make sure the facility is at a fixed address and not on a street corner.”

eThekwini Municipality’s spokesperson, Thulani Mbatha said: “The municipality is aware of the issue as this has been an ongoing problem for years.

“The safe abortion stickers are removed­ by the Expanded Public Works Programme staff, but find that a day after removal they are put up again.

“The municipality previously conducted joint operations with Metro Police and the SAPS to arrest bogus doctors conducting illegal abortions.

“Awareness campaigns are conducted to educate the public about the dangers of using bogus doctors. It is very difficult to establish who the culprits are as they employ ‘runners’ who work for them.”

Source: News24, South Africa

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New Report Exposes Impact of Uganda’s Abortion Law Through Personal Stories

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07.28.16 (PRESS RELEASE) Due to the unclear abortion law in Uganda, women and adolescents continue seeking unsafe abortions and are vilified by their families and communities—even the doctors and health workers who provide legal post-abortion care are being arrested, according to a new report by the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD).

“Facing Uganda’s Law on Abortion: Experiences from Women and Service Providers” is a sexual and reproductive health advocacy publication highlighting experiences and perspectives of individuals who have been affected by or dealt with abortion. The publication includes interviews with women and girls who ended pregnancies, as well as doctors, nurses, health worker, lawyers, police and community members.

Abortion in Uganda is legal in limited circumstances, yet approximately 85,000 women each year receive treatment for complications from unsafe abortion and an additional 65,000 women experience complications but do not seek medical treatment.

“Every woman and adolescent girl has a right to make informed decisions about their reproductive health,” said Onyema Afulukwe, senior legal advisor for Africa at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Uganda’s abortion law punishes women and girls who choose to end a pregnancy and criminalizes the health workers that offer them legal post-abortion care. This new report shows that now, more than ever, the Ugandan government must clarify its law and expand access to safe and legal abortion services.” 

The Center for Reproductive Rights provided technical support for the CEHURD report, which addresses the current state of the abortion law in Uganda, the difficulties accessing lawful and safe abortion services, as well as enforcement of the abortion law by both the police and local communities.

Individuals stories highlighted in the report include among others:

  • Nabukeera Sarah, a 15 year old who was drugged and raped by a health worker when seeking medical treatment, and had to turn to an illegal abortion,
  • Dr. Kadaga Henry Francis, who was arrested and detained after providing a woman with post-abortion care who later died from unsafe abortion complications,
  • Wasswa Alex, a local community leader who reported a rape survivor with intellectual disabilities to police after neighbors ganged up on the woman for ending the pregnancy

Along with the new report, CEHURD released an accompanying video.

“These personal stories demonstrate how Uganda’s abortion law is working against the women and adolescents who need reproductive health services, and the health professionals who should be able to practice medicine without fear of incarceration,” said Moses Mulumba, executive director of CEHURD. “It’s time the government amend the abortion law and implement health policies to ensure women and girls can get the health services they need and deserve.”

The Center has worked extensively in Uganda on the human rights implications of lack of access to legal abortion and modern contraceptives. In November 2013, the Center, the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law released a joint report entitled The Stakes Are High: The Tragic Impact of Unsafe Abortion and Inadequate Access to Contraception in Uganda. The report documents personal stories of women impacted by the widespread and false impression that abortion is illegal in all circumstances in Uganda— when in fact it is permitted for women with life-threatening conditions and victims of sexual assault.

In 2012, the Center launched its first research report on Uganda's laws and policies on termination of pregnancy. The report found that the laws and policies are more expansive than most believe, and Uganda has ample opportunity to increase access to safe abortion services.

Source: Center for Reproductive Rights

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#Repealthe8th: You need to read this woman’s powerful story about Ireland’s abortion law

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Wednesday 27 Jul 2016 12:07 pm

As pressure for Ireland to repeal the Eighth Amendment – the law which provides unborn babies with the same rights as their mothers – grows, perhaps it’s time to take a look at this powerful post about abortion.

The Eighth Amendment, passed in 1983, reads: the State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

The ‘due regard to the equal right of the mother’ means that a termination can only be performed in situations where the mother’s life is at risk.It is also illegal to have an abortion even if a woman or girl was to fall pregnant as a result of rape.

In a moving post on Twitter, Kate Bedfiord, 23, from Dublin, revealed the lengths women and girls living in Ireland must go to in order to avoid being forced into becoming a mother before they’re ready or willing.

Kate's post

(Picture: Kate Bedfiord)
(Picture: Kate Bedfiord)

Her full and frank post reads:

‘I had an abortion at 19. I had no money, no support and no one to tell. I don’t think I’ve ever even said it out loud.

‘I’d been pro-choice my whole life and I was terrified of telling people who loved me a decision that I wholly knew was right for me. I didn’t have any money to travel, and I didn’t know any alternatives. I didn’t know if there was anyone I could take to, or any support.’

Kate admits: ‘I spent endless time searching online for ways to have a home abortion. I did all sorts of desperate things to myself, to no avail.

‘I worked evenings after college, and double shifts to save. I cried constantly and couldn’t eat. When I finally had an abortion I was terrified of the blood. I had agonising pains in a hotel room. I thought I was just going to die. I didn’t even mind, sadly.’

‘When I got home I went to a clinic. I said I thought something was wrong with me. The doctor scraped me, felt my insides, told me I’d had a miscarriage and should “be more careful”. I was careful, but that didn’t matter.

‘I’ve carried that as a burden for years. A sense of shame that I didn’t deserve, that no one does. I read endless posts online about how terrible someone like me must be, how heartless. Sometimes I forget that when I talk about abortion rights, I’m talking about something that’s shaped me irrevocably.

‘It doesn’t even feel like my story. Ignoring the needs of women like myself doesn’t make the problem go away, and it doesn’t make this country any safer of a place to be a woman, or a mother.’

She adds: ‘The Eighth Amendment is not just arbitrary linguistics, it affects so many people you know, so many people you love. Irish women deserve more than this; more than being reduced to a sad figure on a website, more than another signifier of Irish shame, more than being disregarded and denied autonomy and respect by people who have never, and will never, know them.’

Metro.co.uk caught up with Kate, who told us that she’d fallen pregnant despite using the contraceptive pill for years.

Because of Ireland’s strict abortion laws, she looked into travelling to the UK to have a termination safely but the trip proved too expensive for the then teen who was already working double shifts to pay for college and her ill father’s medical bills.

Kate told Metro.co.uk: ‘I started to look up clinics in the UK. I wanted to go ASAP, but I knew I probably couldn’t afford to go to most of the places that I found.

‘I bought a cheap flight to London, not really knowing what I was doing. I contacted clinics and quickly realised there was no way I could afford it. I started looking up how to have a home abortion. I had baths with boiling water, took extreme amounts of vitamin c, thought about falling from a height; Nothing worked.’

As days passed, she became increasingly desperate.

‘I decided to buy an abortion pill online. I knew it was dangerous, I knew it was illegal, but I was desperate. I’d read about sites that sent you placebos, and thought about what I would do if I couldn’t take it in time. Eventually, I purchased the pill from WomenOnWeb.org, and paid the donation fee. They seemed anonymous, and supportive.’

‘It arrived just before I was due to fly. I wasn’t going to go, but I thought that if something went wrong it was safer to be in the U.K. I didn’t trust myself to see an Irish doctor for aftercare, you can’t tell who would judge you,’ Kate explained.

When we asked what repealing the Eighth Amendment would mean for women and girls who fall pregnant before their ready or when they don’t want to have a child, Kate told Metro.co.uk: ‘I think the language of the constitution holds a significant away over discourse in Ireland. A thirty year-old law that dictates women’s reproductive health is cited consistently in order to deny women’s freedom.‘I think the abolition of that amendment, the destruction of that harmful language, collapses that argument. I know now that there’s support for Irish women; but the constant reminder that your body is not your own in the eyes of the law, and of other citizens, creates a sense of guilt that feels impossible to overcome.

‘Acknowledging women’s autonomy would create an open discourse, a fairer debate, and alleviate some of the destructive shame that currently surrounds a choice that isn’t ever lightly undertaken.’

Source: Metro.co.uk

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UN Human Rights Committee Recommendations on Abortion Law & Policy: Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Ghana

Family planning clinic in Burkina Faso (photo Burkina 24)

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UN Human Rights Committee Recommendations on Abortion Law & Policy: Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Ghana

27 July 2016

Burkina Faso:  Santé reproductive : Le Burkina invité à éliminer les obstacles d’accès à l’avortement légal
(Reproductive health: Burkina invited to eliminate obstacles to accessing legal abortion)

L’une des recommandations majeures issues de la 117e Session du Comité des droits de l’Homme de l’ONU tenue à Genève et publiées ce 15 juillet 2016, concerne les interruptions volontaires de grossesse et accès aux moyens de contraception au Burkina.

(One of the most important recommendations of the 117th Session of the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva, published 15 July 2016, concerned abortion and access to the means of contraception in Burkina Faso.)

From the HRC report:

Interruptions volontaires de grossesse et accès aux moyens de contraception
(Voluntary termination of pregnancy and access to contraceptive methods)

19. Le Comité est préoccupé par les conditions contraignantes pour accéder à l’avortement légal en cas de viol ou d’inceste, à savoir l’obtention d’une décision de justice reconnaissant l’infraction et un délai légal de 10 semaines pour pratiquer une interruption volontaire de grossesse. Le Comité note avec préoccupation le recours par les femmes enceintes à des avortements à risque qui mettent en danger leur vie et leur santé en raison des obstacles légaux, de la stigmatisation et du manque d’information. Il est recommandé aux autorités burkinabè d’éliminer les obstacles pour accéder à l’avortement légal qui incitent les femmes à recourir à des avortements à risque qui mettent leur vie et leur santé en danger et de lever l’exigence d’une autorisation préalable du tribunal pour les avortements résultants d’un viol ou d’un inceste.

(The Committee is concerned by the conditions required for accessing a legal abortion in cases of rape or incest, namely obtaining a judge's decision recognizing the offence within the legal limit of 10 weeks of pregnancy. The Committee notes with concern the use by pregnant women of unsafe abortion methods, which endanger their life and health because of legal obstacles, stigma and lack of information. It is recommended to the authorities of Burkina Faso to eliminate the obstacles to accessing legal abortion which encourage women to resort to unsafe abortions that put their lives and health at risk, and to remove the requirement of prior authorization of a court for abortions resulting from rape or incest.)... FULL STORY

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Ecuador: Concerns about the criminalisation of abortion in the new Organic Integrated Criminal Code

According to the non-governmental organizations who attended the Committee hearings and presented shadow reports, the State did not answer the experts’ questions on issues such as freedom of expression, human trafficking, and women’s rights, among others. This information must be sent, in writing, by the Ecuadorian State to the Committee.

From the HRC report:

Interrupción voluntaria del embarazo (Voluntary termination of pregnancy)

15. El Comité observa con preocupación que el nuevo Código Orgánico Integral Penal criminaliza la interrupción voluntaria del embarazo, salvo cuando se practique para “evitar un peligro para la vida o salud de la mujer embarazada y si este peligro no puede ser evitado por otros medios” y cuando el embarazo haya sido consecuencia de la violación “en una mujer que padezca discapacidad mental”, lo que habría llevado a muchas mujeres embarazadas a continuar buscando servicios de aborto inseguros que pondrían en peligro su vida y su salud (arts. 3, 6, 7 y 17).

(The Committee notes with concern that the new Organic Integrated Criminal Code criminalises voluntary termination of pregnancy, except when it is to "prevent a danger to the life or health of the pregnant woman and if this danger cannot be avoided by other means" and when the pregnancy has been a consequence of the rape "of a woman who suffers from mental disability", which would lead to many pregnant women to continue to seek unsafe abortion services that endanger their life and health.) FULL STORY

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Ghana: Concerns that despite some legal grounds, safe abortion remains largely inaccessible

Voluntary termination of pregnancy

23. The Committee is concerned that, despite the legally available exceptions to the prohibition of abortion, safe abortion remains largely inaccessible due to the stigma associated to voluntary termination of pregnancy in the society and to its relatively high cost and the fact that it is not covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme. The Committee is concerned by the percentage of unsafe abortion-related maternal deaths (Arts.3, 6, 7 and 17). FULL STORY

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Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion

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U.N. Committee: Philippines Must Provide Access to Modern Contraceptives, Legalize Abortion in Certain Circumstances

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(PRESS RELEASE) The Philippine government must ensure access to modern contraceptives and legalize abortion in certain circumstances, according to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (U.N. CEDAW).

In its recommendations, the U.N. CEDAW expressed concern about the inconsistent implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act (RPRHA), which was enacted in 2012 and guarantees universal access to modern contraceptives. The U.N. CEDAW further expressed concern about the absence of an effective mechanism to monitor implementation of the RPRHA, as well as the increasing number of unsafe abortions among adolescent girls in the Philippines.

The Philippines has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, imposing a criminal ban on abortion with no clear exceptions. Despite this ban, abortion is common and estimates by the Guttmacher Institute show an increase in its incidence—from approximately 560,000 in 2008 to 610,000 in 2012. Under the RPRHA, abortion remains illegal and punishable as a crime. Proposed amendments to the current penal code aim to increase the penalties for abortion.

Said Melissa Upreti, regional director for Asia at the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“Women in the Philippines have a legal right to modern contraceptives, yet they continue to be barred from getting the reproductive health services they need.

“We commend the U.N. Committee for once again urging the government to fully ensure women’s reproductive health and end discrimination against women by providing access to modern contraceptives and legalizing abortion.

“The Reproductive Health Act was a historic victory for women in the Philippines, but it’s time the government make this law a reality for women who deserve to make their own reproductive health choices and live with dignity.”

The Center, Catholics for Reproductive Health, EnGendeRights, International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific, Population Services Pilipinas Inc., WomanHealth Philippines Inc. and Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights submitted a joint letter to the U.N. CEDAW emphasizing how the failure to ensure humane and nonjudgmental post-abortion care and provide effective access to justice for reproductive rights violations discriminates against women and girls and egregiously violates their fundamental human rights.

The U.N. CEDAW recommendations also highlight the committee’s concerns regarding bans on modern contraceptives that still exist in part because the Philippine government has not formally declared Executive Orders 003 and 030 of Manila City unlawful—leading to confusion among local health care providers and denials of reproductive health services for women and adolescent girls. In February 2015, the U.N CEDAW also expressed concerns about Executive Order 3 issued by Sorsogon City, which has similarly resulted in the withdrawal of modern contraceptives from local health facilities. An order issued by the Supreme Court in 2015 barring government agencies from approving certain contraceptives has further compounded lack of access to modern contraceptives throughout the country.

In May 2015, U.N. CEDAW released a report criticizing the government for failing to prioritize women’s human rights over religious ideology and cultural stereotypes. U.N. CEDAW experts traveled to the Philippines in November 2012 to conduct a special inquiry under article 8 of the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women – the first ever in Asia and the first on sexual and reproductive health and rights - after the Center and other NGOs submitted evidence of human rights violations women were facing mainly due to Executive Order 003, which effectively banned women’s access to modern contraceptives in Manila City. The inquiry request was based on the Center and Likhaan’s report Imposing Misery.

The U.N. CEDAW unequivocally reiterated its call for the Philippine government to immediately and fully implement all of the recommendations resulting from the special inquiry, including:

  • Improve access to contraception and other sexual and reproductive health services and information
  • Provide access to quality post-abortion care in all public health facilities
  • Review and repeal discriminatory laws, including Manila City’s EOs 003 and 030, to clarify that women have a right to contraceptive information and services as guaranteed in the RPRHA and the Magna Carta of Women;
  • Repeal articles 256–259 of the country’s penal code in order to decriminalize abortion and legalize it on grounds of rape, incest, serious threats to the life or health of the mother and fetal impairment.
  • Ensure access to justice for women whose rights are violated

The Center has been working across Asia for over a decade, including conducting advocacy with local partners to ensure access to modern contraception and safe abortion in the Philippines.

Source: Center for Reproductive Rights

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