Council of Europe warns on backlash to abortion access

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Council of Europe warns on backlash to abortion access

By Caterina Tani
BRUSSELS, Dec 6, 2017

A backlash against access to abortion in some EU member states in the past few years is "deeply troubling", the Council of Europe warned on Tuesday (5 December).

In the majority of EU countries abortions are legal, but in some states a wave of "retrogressive restrictions" are threatening women's health and well-being, the European human rights organisation's report said.

Continued at source: https://euobserver.com/health/140158

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USA: Roe’s Unfinished Promise

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ROE'S UNFINISHED PROMISE
Nov 29, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade set powerful precedent affirming that the Constitution protects the right to abortion. By striking down criminal abortion laws, Roe created the promise of a future in which anyone who decides to end a pregnancy is able to do so safely, with dignity, and free from arrest. From this case emerged a promise of greater reproductive freedom and an end to the fear and secrecy that had plagued many people’s experiences of ending pregnancies where abortion had been a crime.

Roe's Unfinished Promise: Decriminalizing Abortion Once and For All is the first comprehensive paper about the criminalization of non-clinical abortion in the U.S. and efforts to eliminate threats, while increasing protections, for people who end pregnancies outside the formal healthcare system. It includes a chart listing problematic laws state by state, maps highlighting the places where people who self-induce abortion are most at risk of an unjustified arrest, excerpts from relevant statutes, and case summaries. The report concludes with recommendations for efforts to liberate non-clinical abortion from the constraints of misunderstanding and the restraints of criminalization.

Continued at source: https://www.sialegalteam.org/roes-unfinished-promise

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LITHUANIA- Lithuanian Parliament to discuss restricting access to abortion

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LITHUANIA- Lithuanian Parliament to discuss restricting access to abortion
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
Oct 23, 2017

The Lithuanian Parliament is due to discuss a draft law that would strongly restrict women’s access to legal abortion leaving only two options for accessing the procedure: when women’s life and health are in danger and in cases of rape. The text was proposed by the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania who have since 2005 unsuccessfully tried to submit bills to criminalise abortion.

In response, the ASTRA Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights sent letters to the Lithuanian President, Prime Minister and Speaker of the Seimas, calling for rejection of this bill.

Continued at source: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/lithuania-lithuanian-parliament-to-discuss-restricting-access-to-abortion/

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In Senegal, cases of infanticide raise the question of legalisation of abortion

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SENEGAL – In Senegal, cases of infanticide raise the question of legalisation of abortion
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
Sept 22, 2017

Newborn infants found dead, often in public places, are most of the time the outcome of rape, incest or adultery. In February, the body of a three-day-old baby was found in a plastic bag under a truck in the parking lot of the Stadium Léopold-Sédar-Senghor in Dakar. In the same month, another was found in a market gardeners’ stall. In the past two years, 14 similar cases have been identified in garbage dumps, and body parts of others have been found that may have been eaten by wild dogs. Each case is now recorded and reported to the police.

These cases reveal a worrying phenomenon in Senegal: infanticide.

Continued: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/senegal-cases-of-infanticide-raise-the-question-of-legalisation-of-abortion/

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U.S.: Many Abortion Restrictions Have No Rigorous Scientific Basis

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Many Abortion Restrictions Have No Rigorous Scientific Basis
May 9, 2017, News Release
Texas and Kansas Stand Out as the States with the Largest Number of Scientifically Unfounded Restrictions

At least 10 major categories of abortion restrictions are premised on assertions not supported by rigorous scientific evidence, according to a new analysis in the Guttmacher Policy Review. These restrictions include unnecessary regulations on abortion facilities and providers, counseling and waiting period requirements rooted in misinformation, and laws based on false assertions about when fetuses can feel pain.

The authors, Guttmacher Institute experts Rachel Benson Gold and Elizabeth Nash, document that over half of U.S. women of reproductive age live in states where abortion restrictions are in effect that have either moderate or major conflicts with the science. The worst offenders are Kansas and Texas (with laws in effect in eight out of the 10 categories) and Louisiana, Oklahoma and South Dakota (seven such laws each). A table with information for all states is included in the full analysis.

Continued at link: Guttmacher Institute: https://www.guttmacher.org/news-release/2017/many-abortion-restrictions-have-no-rigorous-scientific-basis

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Policy Trends in the States: 2016

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Elizabeth Nash,Guttmacher Institute
Rachel Benson Gold,Guttmacher Institute
Zohra Ansari-Thomas,Guttmacher Institute
Olivia Cappello,Guttmacher Institute
Lizamarie Mohammed,Guttmacher Institute
First published online: January 3, 2017

In 2016, 18 states enacted 50 new abortion restrictions, bringing the number of new abortion restrictions enacted since 2010 to 338. Although state-level assaults on abortion access continued, 16 states took important steps in 2016 to expand access to other sexual and reproductive health services, adopting a total of 28 proactive measures. Many of these measures expand access to contraception by requiring health plans to cover an extended supply of contraceptive methods (five states), authorizing pharmacists to dispense contraceptives without a physician’s prescription (one state) or expanding insurance coverage of contraception (three states).

[continued at link]
Source: Guttmacher Institute

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U.S.: Abortion Rights Groups Sue 3 More States As Trump Inauguration Nears

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“This is the biggest threat we have seen, to be frank.”
11/30/2016

Laura Bassett Senior Politics Reporter, The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON ― As they prepare for a potentially massive threat to abortion access under the Donald Trump administration, Planned Parenthood and two of its allies on Wednesday announced a slew of new legal battles against abortion restrictions in Missouri, Alaska and North Carolina.

[continued at link]
Source: Huffington Post

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Restricting access to abortion services: Turkish government policy since 2012

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by Safe Abortion
Nov 17, 2016

During the pro-natalist period, the Turkish Penal Code, ratified in 1926, considered induced abortion to be a crime. (1) However, research showed that the practice of abortion continued on a large scale, irrespective of the laws or the penalties. (2) It was estimated at the end of the 1950s that the number of illegally induced abortions approached half a million per year, with around 10,000 deaths annually from complications. (3) Maternal mortality from other causes also remained high. According to a survey in 1959, the estimated maternal mortality ratio in rural areas was 280 deaths per 100,000 live births. It was also estimated that 53% of maternal deaths were abortion-related. (4,5)

In 1965 a “population” law was enacted, allowing the sale and use of contraceptive methods. Abortion was permitted only to save the life or preserve the health of the pregnant woman and in cases of fetal impairment. (6) Abortion was then legalised in Turkey in 1983 up to 10 weeks of pregnancy on the decision of women. The decision has to be confirmed by the husband, however, if the woman is married, or by the parents/legal guardian if the woman is aged under 18. Pregnancies over ten weeks can be terminated only on medical grounds. (7)

After 1983, the numbers of unsafe abortions and their adverse effects decreased sharply. The prevalence of induced abortions rose initially, but started to decline in the 1990s and continues to do so today. According to Turkey Demographic & Health Survey data, the number of abortions per 100 pregnancies dropped from 19.0 in 1983 to 4.7 in 2013. (8)

Since 2012, there has been political opposition to the provision of abortion services. Some hospital clinics that provided both family planning and abortion services had to stop providing abortions. Thus, the availability of safe abortions depends not only on permissive legislation but also on political support and the ability of health professionals to provide it. If restrictions on accessing abortion services continue, the country will again be faced with an increase in women seeking abortions in unsafe conditions, resulting in increases in maternal morbidity and mortality.

SOURCE: S Sinan Ozalp, Emeritus Prof. Eskişehir Osmangazi University Faculty of Medicine and Department of OB/GYN, Eskişehir, Turkey, October 2016 [References in Turkish available] ;

PHOTO: PRI, by Bulent Kilic

SEE ALSO: Campaign newsletter, 5th article, 28 October 2016

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

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Health Canada should be removing and not adding barriers to an abortion drug treatment that could help so many women.

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Jocelyn DownieAbortion pill: One step forward, two steps back

by Jocelyn Downie

 The good news is that Health Canada has approved Mifegymiso for sale in Canada.  Mifegymiso is a combination of drugs that, taken together, cause what’s called a medical abortion.  Medical abortion can be preferable to surgical abortion for a host of reasons, not least that it can make abortion accessible to women in communities with limited access to surgical abortions (most acutely, in rural and remote communities).

The bad news is that the approval of Mifegymiso (often referred to as RU486) came with strings.  As part of the approval process, Health Canada made the manufacturer agree to a set of “post-authorization commitments.”  A number of these commitments are entirely inappropriate.

Only registered physicians who have completed the mandatory Mifegymiso education and registration programs can prescribe Mifegymiso.  Also, only physicians can dispense Mifegymiso, and the woman must take the first of two sets of pills in the presence of the dispensing physician.  These restrictions are indefensible, for a variety of reasons.

First, there is no convincing empirical evidence to justify the claim that they are required for safety.

Second, it is stigmatizing to place these restrictions on an abortion drug when they are not placed on any other drugs.  No other drug has this set of restrictions.  Not even opioids, at a time when there is a recognized epidemic of addiction and deaths from opioids in Canada.  The only drug that has anything close to the Mifegymiso restrictions is methadone — a potent narcotic used for pain relief and for the relief of withdrawal symptoms for patients addicted to heroin or other narcotic drugs. And even that has fewer restrictions than Mifegymiso.

Third, these restrictions will create barriers to access, because many physicians will be unwilling or unable to meet them.  In particular, family physicians in private practices or community clinics may not have the experience or infrastructure required to buy, stock, dispense and take payment for drugs.  Furthermore, because of safety and conflict-of-interest concerns, physicians are frequently discouraged and often even prohibited by the provincial regulatory bodies from dispensing drugs.

It is discriminatory to create such barriers to access to a medically necessary treatment that only women require.  The Supreme Court of Canada long ago stated that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy is discrimination on the basis of sex.  Access to abortion in Canada is already a serious problem for many women —Health Canada should be removing not adding barriers to access.

Fourth, requiring women to take the pills in front of their physician interferes in the physician-patient relationship. It sends a stigmatizing message that women are not to be trusted to take the pills and to do so responsibly and properly on their own.  It also puts the timing of the abortion at the mercy of the physician’s schedule.  A woman will have to initiate the abortion when she can get an appointment with her physician, instead of when it is most convenient for her.  So, for example, she might only be able to get an appointment on a Tuesday so she would then have to go through the abortion during her workweek.  If this restriction were not in place, she could have it over a weekend and thus not compromise her income and her privacy.

Perhaps of greatest concern is the fact that this requirement means that a woman who had to travel a great distance to access the physician might have to go through at least part of the abortion while travelling back to her home.  Nobody should be made to go through the physical and psychological effects and side effects of these drugs while, for example, driving some hours from the doctor’s office to home.

Health Canada should immediately take the steps necessary to expedite removal of these conditions on the prescription, dispensing, and administration of Mifegymiso. To do otherwise is to continue to stigmatize and discriminate against women in the exercise of their reproductive autonomy.  And we’ve surely had enough of that already.

Source: Policy Options Politiques

 

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