Latin America – Covid-19 hospital beds and abortion

There is hard evidence that the pandemic presents a heightened risk to reproductive health

31 JUL 2020

“Abortion is a public health matter,” scientists say. This notion seems a bit abstract – how can a criminalized practice constitute a public health need? The Covid-19 pandemic is a teachable moment. But it is the teaching of horror: according to the World Health Organization, thousands of women visit health services every month to receive care for incomplete abortions. In Argentina, the figure was 3,330 women; in Chile, 1,522; in Colombia, 7,778; and in Mexico, 18,285, in different years. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 760,000 women in Latin America and the Caribbean are treated annually at healthcare services because of complications from unsafe abortions, averaging out to 63,000 beds a month. When a woman goes to a hospital for complications from an unsafe abortion, she might end up needing a bed twice: once, to treat the unsafe abortion and next, to be treated for the Covid-19 she contracted in the hospital.


Thai court says anti-abortion laws unconstitutional

Thai court says anti-abortion laws unconstitutional

Chayut Setboonsarng
Feb 20, 2029

By Chayut Setboonsarng

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's Constitutional Court has ruled that existing laws criminalizing abortion are unconstitutional and ordered them to be amended, paving the way for clearer regulation for reproductive rights.

Pregnancies in Thailand can be terminated legally if a woman's physical or mental health are at risk, the fetus has a high risk of a genetic disease, or in cases of rape and girls under the age of 15.


USA: 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:

Dominican Republic to uphold total ban on abortion

Dominican Republic to uphold total ban on abortion

On May 31, the Dominican Senate voted to uphold a total ban on abortion. Even in cases of rape and incest, and when the woman’s life is in danger.
June 1, 2017 by Raquel Rosario Sanchez

On May 31, the Dominican Senate voted to uphold a total ban on abortion. The country is among six countries worldwide that have banned abortion in all circumstances, including when the life of the mother is in danger. Others are: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Vatican City, Malta, and Chile. The Senate had the opportunity to change the grim situation of reproductive rights and access in the country on Wednesday, however, they voted to uphold the archaic legislation by a margin of 27 to two.

Continued at source: Feminist Current:

Honduras Should Give Women More Access to Abortion

Honduras Should Give Women More Access to Abortion
Lawmakers Set to Discuss Loosening Notoriously Strict Anti-Abortion Law

April 24, 2017
Sarah Taylor
Women, Peace and Security Advocate, Women's Rights Division

This week, lawmakers in Honduras will have the chance to allow some women access to abortion, reversing restrictions first imposed more than 30 years ago. Under the current law, terminating a pregnancy is illegal and carries a heavy prison sentence, unless the woman’s life is in danger. But Congress is reportedly considering loosening abortion restrictions, although any proposed text is not yet public.

Continued at source: Human Rights Watch:

Angola MPs to vote on 10 years in jail for abortion proposal

Angola MPs to vote on 10 years in jail for abortion proposal
March 17, 2017
by AP

Angola's Parliament votes next week on a proposal to imprison for up to 10 years women who have abortions and people who perform them, angering the President's daughter and others in the former Portuguese colony.

Continued at source: New Zimbabwe:

Kenya: Woman dies while procuring abortion in Nairobi clinic

Woman dies while procuring abortion in Nairobi clinic

Thursday March 16 2017


The proprietor of a clinic in Kayole, Nairobi County has been arrested after a woman died while procuring an abortion.

The woman is alleged to have gone to the Faith Medical Clinic on Tuesday night to terminate her pregnancy.

She was found lying dead on one of the clinic’s benches Wednesday morning.

Continued at source: Kenya Nation:

Archaic Laws Are Still Preventing Australian Women From The Right To An Abortion

Archaic Laws Are Still Preventing Australian Women From The Right To An Abortion
If you thought the U.S. was bad, it's time to look in our own backyard.

Feb 17, 2017
Julia Naughton, Associate Lifestyle Editor, HuffPost Australia

Despite having one of the best healthcare systems in the world, Australian women facing the difficult decision of terminating a pregnancy have few legal rights and many have even poorer access to abortion.

It is estimated that between one-quarter and one-third of Australian women will have an abortion in their lifetime. While there has been law reform in states like Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, the process is far from straightforward, nor is it stigma free.

Continued at source: Huffington Post:

Special Announcement: Symposium on Brazilian Abortion Ruling

Special Announcement: Symposium on Brazilian Abortion Ruling

—Richard Albert, Boston College Law School
Feb 3, 2017

Late last year, in an historic ruling for the region, the First Chamber of the Supreme Court of Brazil held that a criminal prohibition on procuring an abortion before the end of the first trimester violates the fundamental rights of women as well as the principle of proportionality.
Later this month, I-CONnect will publish an online symposium on this controversial and important decision–controversial because the Court split 3 to 2 and the judgment has stirred much debate among lawmakers, and important because the judgment has broken new ground in the region. The symposium will feature perspectives from scholars around the world.

Below, we publish the syllabus of the case; the full translation will be published as part of the symposium.

Continued at link
Source, iConnect:

Argentina: UN report slams punishment for abortion

Protesters ask for the freedom of Belén, condemned to eight years of prison after a miscarriage.

July 16, 2016

Human Rights Committee also voices concern about media concentration in Argentina The United Nations Human Rights Committee has released a report slamming the state of abortion rights in Argentina and criticizing President Mauricio Macri’s decision to strike down key articles of the Broadcast Media Law and its subsequent effects on freedom of expression yesterday.

The UN body, which is comprised of a collective of human rights experts from UN member states, published its findings on Argentina and voiced “serious concerns” over the possibility of a “concentration” of power following the abolition of the Broadcast Media Law and existing repressive abortion law in the country.

The report said that restrictions placed on reproductive rights in Argentina undermined human rights and strongly recommended that the de-facto criminalization of abortion in Argentina be reversed.

“The state must revise existing legislation on abortion, including criminal legislation, in particular by introducing additional exceptions to the prohibition of abortion, including when the pregnancy is the result of rape, regardless of the intellectual ability or psychology of the women,” the report said.

The committee expressed concern about the “reduction of staff and institutional changes in areas destined for human rights protection, in particular with respect to the institutions working on the process memory, truth and justice.”

President Mauricio Macri, like his predecessor former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, won the presidency on a “pro-life” ticket that guaranteed to preserve existing laws surrounding abortion in Argentina, which is only permitted in limited circumstances and with a court order. Court-approved abortions have also proven hard to come by.

The report said the state’s failure to provide abortion throughout the country threatened human rights of Argentines and called on Macri’s administration to make sure that everyone in need had access to reproductive health services.

“The state must ensure that all women and girls can access reproductive health services in all regions of the country and that the legal barriers and the lack of medical protocols do not force women to resort to clandestine abortions that put their health and lives at risk.”

There are an estimated 500,000 abortions carried out per year in Argentina, the vast majority of which are clandestine.

The report also referenced the ongoing “Belén case” surrounding the incarceration of a 27-year-old Tucumán resident who suffered a miscarriage in March 2014, was arrested and convicted of murder earlier this year.

Belén was in custody for the two years previous to her conviction. Human rights group Amnesty International has launched a worldwide campaign for her release, and the Committee’s report reiterated the organization’s demands calling for her release from jail.

“The state must revise the ‘Belén case’ in light of international standards in the field, with a view to her immediate release, and in light of the case, consider the decriminalization of abortion,” the report said.

The Committee’s highlighting of existing abortion laws in Argentina undermining human rights followed a statement by Macri last month where he doubled down on campaign rhetoric surrounding the issue, saying that he “defends life from the moment of conception until death.”

A cross-party group of national lawmakers recently submitted a bill calling for the legalization of abortion in Argentina, a move lawmakers in favour of reform have attempted repeatedly, though without the necessary support it is unlikely to make it past the congressional committee stage.

Media law reforms may violate ICCPR

While abortion rights in Argentina have long been a concern for human rights groups and agencies including the committee, the report also highlighted more recent developments and cited concerns over Macri’s use of a presidential decree to undo key elements of the 2009 Broadcast Media Law.

The law was introduced under Macri’s predecessor Fernández de Kirchner and won international praise, including from the UN, for its attempts to prevent monopoly ownership of media in Argentina by capping the number of media outlets private companies could own and limiting to 33-percent each the market share that private companies, NGOs and state agencies had across national media.

Under a subtitle “freedom of expression”, the report recommended Macri’s government to “reconsider” the effective abolition of the Broadcast Media Law via presidential decree, which Macri implemented with majority congressional approval in April.

“The Committee notes with concern the recent reforms in audiovisual services which may have the effect of concentrating the ownership of media communication and negatively affect freedom of expression,” the report said.

It added that Argentina may be in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), an international agreement on the preservation of human rights entered into by most UN member states and the basis of the Committee’s review. Article 19 concerns freedom of expression. The Committee was reviewing the implementation of the ICCPR.

“The state must adopt all necessary measures to ensure that its legislation is entirely compatible with Article 19 of the Covenant, with a view to guaranteeing the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of the press,” the report added.

International agreements and laws have a higher rank over domestic laws according to Argentina’s constitution.

Bad news, good news

The Committee, which welcomed an Argentine official delegation and non-governmental organizations for comment on the compliance with the ICCPR in June, also called for the appointment of an Ombudsperson as soon as possible. The last Ombudsman, Eduardo Mondino, resigned in 2009 and the position has not been filled. Instead the Ombudsperson’s office has been held on an interim basis.

Investigations into the “economic complicity” of numerous corporations and businessmen in the crimes of the last military dictatorship have failed to materialize, according to the report, which slammed the “obstacles in the progress of the investigations of these crimes ... including offences committed by businesses and businessmen involved in human rights abuses.”

Meanwhile, numerous ongoing human rights issues were also highlighted by the report, including a call for the government to “intensify all efforts in the demarcation and legal recognition of lands over which indigenous communities have rights.”

Macri promised to incorporate indigenous concerns into his agenda and welcomed influential Qom leader Felix Díaz to the Pink House for talks in the hope of resolving land disputes in Formosa province.

However, Díaz joined other indigenous leaders in voicing disdain for the lack of progress on indigenous rights issues since Macri’s inauguration. “They think of us as disposable materials. To use us and then throw us out after elections,” he told C5N news channel on Thursday. As the Herald reported last month, a recent UN report on xenophobia in Argentina also slammed the “horrible” living conditions many indigenous communities currently experience in the country.

The Committee report also examined the ongoing presence of what it labelled as “institutional violence” within Argentina’s law enforcement and prison services and said that Article Seven of the Covenant, which concerns freedom from torture and other inhumane treatment, must be adhered to, highlighting “recurrent cases” of law enforcement failing to do so “in Buenos Aires province in particular.”

The report did praise a number of legislative measures taken by the Argentine state in recent years aimed at solidifying human rights in Argentina.

It praised the Fernández de Kirchner government’s introduction of the National Plan for the Prevention and Eradication of Gender Violence Against Women, which was introduced in 2014 and won widespread backing in Congress following the rise of the #NiUnaMenos social movement against gender violence last year. It also considered the adoption of the Justicia 2020 programme a positive development.

Source: Buenos Aires Herald