WOMEN HELP WOMEN – Supporting Independent Use of Abortion Medicines: fighting stigma one email at a time

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WOMEN HELP WOMEN – Supporting Independent Use of Abortion Medicines: fighting stigma one email at a time

August 15, 2017
by Women Help Women

Although self-management of medical abortion presents enormous potential for the empowerment of women, the experience of individual women in countries where abortion is legally restricted often remains deeply stigmatized, despite the availability of safe abortion pills. It builds on other forms of discrimination and structural injustices. Ultimately, abortion stigma serves to marginalize an essential medical process, discredit those who would provide or procure it, and undermine those who advocate for its legality and accessibility.

A woman who manages her own abortion is committing a political act by refusing to submit to various oppressive systems, whether intending to or not. By taking control into her own hands, she is rejecting systems of law, local medical practice, societal norms, religious norms and sometimes deeply held personal beliefs.

False messages intended to frighten women off

> The pills are misused by women and cannot be self-managed.

> No woman should ever do this by herself because she will likely die or become infertile.

> This process should never be made so easy.

WHW works steadily to empower, destigmatize and provide support in each and every message and action. Any intervention on behalf of independent use in restrictive settings must engage fully in conversation. Each person deserves to feel heard, understood and respected. Stigma can feel overwhelming but can be addressed brick-by-brick in small but meaningful written exchanges. We emphasize that abortion is a common experience, and they are not alone. We offer reliable information on medical, legal and logistical aspects of accessing and safely taking abortion medicines, sharing research data, and the experiences of others. We talk about how safe self-management of abortion medicines is, but we encourage women to be close to the hospital if additional care is needed. After desperation, fear, shame and secrecy, women express relief and astonishment after the abortion is over, because they experienced no complications, and they feel healthy both physically and emotionally.

FULL TEXT:  English  / Español

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Continued at source: International Campaign for women's Right to Safe Abortion: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/women-help-women-supporting-independent-use-of-abortion-medicines/

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Why Aren’t American Women’s Rights Guaranteed by Law?

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Why Aren’t American Women’s Rights Guaranteed by Law?
By Janet Benshoof and Serra Sippel
Aug 14, 2017

A fight is again brewing within the Democratic Party after they recently announced that they would fund candidates with anti-abortion stances.

Many American women are frustrated that they must continue fighting against legislatures that actively attack their rights.

Unlike in other countries, and despite what most Americans believe, robust anti-discrimination laws do not protect women in the United States.

Continued at source: Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/why-arent-american-womens-rights-guaranteed-law-649848

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The Discussion on Conscientious Objection

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The Discussion on Conscientious Objection

Posted on August 10, 2017 by Nomtika

All roads led to Uruguay last week, between July 31st and August 4th, as 5 SRJC members took to Montevideo for the International Convention on Conscientious Objection.

The meeting, co-hosted by Mujer y Salud en Uruguay (MYSU) and the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), featured policymakers, academics, health professionals, legal experts, and feminist activists who collectively established that objecting to the provision of voluntary abortion services on religious or moral grounds, is a chief barrier to safe abortion and endangers the lives of women.

Continued at source: Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition: http://srjc.org.za/2017/08/10/the-discussion-on-conscientious-objection/

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There is no defense for ‘conscientious objection’ in reproductive health care

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There is no defense for ‘conscientious objection’ in reproductive health care

by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
Aug 8, 2017

by Christian Fiala, Joyce H Arthur  

European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology

Abstract

“A widespread assumption has taken hold in the field of medicine that we must allow health care professionals the right to refuse treatment under the guise of ‘conscientious objection’ (CO), in particular for women seeking abortions. At the same time, it is widely recognized that the refusal to treat creates harm and barriers for patients receiving reproductive health care. In response, many recommendations have been put forward as solutions to limit those harms. Further, some researchers make a distinction between true CO and ‘obstructionist CO’, based on the motivations or actions of various objectors.

This paper argues that ‘CO’ in reproductive health care should not be considered a right, but an unethical refusal to treat. Supporters of CO have no real defence of their stance, other than the mistaken assumption that CO in reproductive health care is the same as CO in the military, when the two have nothing in common (for example, objecting doctors are rarely disciplined, while the patient pays the price). Refusals to treat are based on non-verifiable personal beliefs, usually religious beliefs, but introducing religion into medicine undermines best practices that depend on scientific evidence and medical ethics. CO therefore represents an abandonment of professional obligations to patients. Countries should strive to reduce the number of objectors in reproductive health care as much as possible until CO can feasibly be prohibited. Several Scandinavian countries already have a successful ban on CO.”

The main text of the paper opens by saying: “Remarkably, pro-choice researchers and ethicists who support CO in reproductive health care rarely try to defend the practice beyond a simple assertion that individual conscience is an important right. Certainly this is true for everybody in general, but in the field of reproductive health care, there has been little or no recognition of how CO unjustly privileges doctors’ conscience over patients’ conscience, not to mention their life and health[1]. The granting of CO also gives legitimacy to the religiously-based assumption that abortion is wrong − however, providing safe abortion is an ethical practice that has saved the lives and protected the rights of millions of women. Moreover, doctors have obligations to their patients and the public. They occupy a privileged position of trust and responsibility in our society, and profit from a monopoly on the practice of medicine.”

An important argument they put forward is that the “largely religious and non-verifiable basis of CO makes the laws and policies that try to limit its exercise impossible to enforce”. Later, they continue: “Anyone can cite CO and lie or exaggerate. Or be sincere. Who knows? The only way we can judge is in rare evidence-based situations, such as when doctors in Italy and Poland are caught exercising ‘CO’ in public hospitals while doing abortions for profit in private clinics.”

But the crucial question they pose is: Is it possible to protect providers’ claimed right to refuse to treat patients and patients’ right to health care at the same time? Their answer is: the more objectors there are, the less possible it is to protect patients’ right to health care. So they argue that “as a first step towards mitigating the harms of CO, countries could at least require all publicly-funded hospitals to provide abortions, as Portugal has done”. Finally, they call for countries “to steadily reduce the number of objectors and eventually abolish CO, not save it.”

Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/there-is-no-defense-for-conscientious-objection-in-reproductive-health-care/

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Global Experts Prioritize Tackling Conscientious Objection to Abortion

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Global Experts Prioritize Tackling Conscientious Objection to Abortion
Montevideo, August 4, 2017

Fifty experts from 20 countries in Africa, the Americas and Europe, gathered at the first international convening on conscientious objection to abortion have concluded that the refusal to provide legal abortion services is hurting women all over the world and must be tackled.

The meeting, co-hosted by Mujer y Salud en Uruguay (MYSU) and the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), featured policymakers, academics, health professionals, legal experts, and feminist activists who collectively established that objecting to the provision of voluntary abortion services on religious or moral grounds, is a chief barrier to safe abortion and endangers the lives of women.

Continued at source: Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition: http://srjc.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Uruguay-English-Declaration.pdf

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International law and the provision of abortion services

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International law and the provision of abortion services

Kirsten Sjøvoll considers whether the Supreme Court's approach to international law as an aid to interpretation of the ECHR is out of step with Strasbourg, and where this leaves international law as an interpretative aid generally

By Kirsten Sjovoll · On July 28, 2017

In R (A & B) v Secretary of State for Health [2017] UKSC 41 the Supreme Court considered whether the Secretary of State’s failure to exercise his power to require that abortion services be provided through the NHS in England – to women ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland – was unlawful. The question was whether he failed to discharge his duty under the National Health Service Act 2006, s 3 to “take such steps as he considers necessary to meet all reasonable requirements” for services. It also considered whether the continuing failure to provide such abortion services infringed the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR” of “the Convention”), art 14 in conjunction with 8. In particular, the Supreme Court considered to what extent these rights under the ECHR should be informed by other obligations and principles of international law.

Continued at source: Law of Nations Blog: https://lawofnationsblog.com/2017/07/28/international-law-provision-abortion-services/

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Families, fertility and feminism: landmarks in women’s rights

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Families, fertility and feminism: landmarks in women's rights

Women have fought long and hard to secure access to family planning and abortion, and reduce maternal mortality. A modern timeline of that struggle tells a story full of highs and lows

by Liz Ford
Thursday 27 July 2017

Women have been joining forces to agitate for their right to a better life for centuries, but some of the most significant changes have occurred over the past four decades.

It has been a journey of big leaps, small steps and setbacks. Four international women’s conferences, a bunch of UN resolutions and two sets of global goals have all played their part.

Continued at source: The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/jul/27/families-fertility-feminism-landmarks-in-womens-rights-timeline

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Pro-Life? Trump Administration is Endangering Women’s Lives

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Pro-Life? Trump Administration is Endangering Women’s Lives
By Nina Besser Doorley
7/25/17

Last Wednesday night, the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee finalized a foreign assistance bill that guts funding for women’s health around the world. During a debate over the proposal, which would likely increase unsafe abortions and maternal deaths, Republican legislators boasted on Twitter that their legislation “protects the sanctity of life.” In reality, the funding package does exactly the opposite: It undermines global health priorities and endangers women’s lives.

Continued at source: Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/trump-administration-pro-life-endangers-women-641520

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US: Dear Secretary Tillerson: This is Why I Had to Resign

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Dear Secretary Tillerson: This is Why I Had to Resign

By: Varina Winder
July 25, 2017

On my first day at the State Department, nearly six years ago, I cried. Standing in a bare-bones conference room under an American flag, I choked up with pride as I repeated the oath of office:

“I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Six years later, I cried again when I walked out the State Department door one last time. Only this time, those tears were for the loss of American leadership, and the needless, tragic deaths of far too many women and children under the heartless policies of the Trump administration.

Continued at source: Womens e-news: http://womensenews.org/2017/07/dear-secretary-tillerson-this-is-why-i-had-to-resign/

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Q&A: Human Rights Law and Access to Abortion

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Q&A: Human Rights Law and Access to Abortion

Updated July 24 2017

Is abortion a human rights issue?

States’ obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights include areas of sexual and reproductive health and autonomy. Where access to safe and legal abortion services are unreasonably restricted, a number of women’s and girls’ human rights may be at risk. These include:

  • Right to life
  • Rights to health and health care
  • Right to information
  • Rights to nondiscrimination and equality
  • Right to be free from cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment
  • Right to privacy
  • Right to decide the number and spacing of children
  • Right to security of person
  • Right to liberty
  • Right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress
  • Right to freedom of conscience and religion

Continued at source: Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/07/24/qa-human-rights-law-and-access-abortion

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