South Africa – ABORTION & REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE CONFERENCE – Rhodes University to host critical dialogues in reproductive justice

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ABORTION & REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE CONFERENCE – Rhodes University to host critical dialogues in reproductive justice
May 18, 2018
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion

Rhodes University’s Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction (CSSR) research programme will be co-hosting a flagship conference to address abortion and reproductive justice issues in July.

In cooperation with the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition of South Africa, the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, the South African Department of Social Development, and the Open Society Foundations, the conference – Abortion & Reproductive Justice: The Unfinished Revolution III – will take place from 8–12 July 2018 at Rhodes’ Barrat Lecture Theatre Complex.

Continued: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/abortion-reproductive-justice-conference-rhodes-university-to-host-critical-dialogues-in-reproductive-justice/

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CHILE – Legal abortions in Chile since the new law was passed, and response to political pushback

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CHILE – Legal abortions in Chile since the new law was passed, and response to political pushback

May 18, 2018
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion

According to the Chilean Ministry of Health, between September 2017 and March 2018, there have been 111 legal abortions – 50 on grounds of risk to the woman’s life, 35 due to fatal fetal anomalies, and 26 following rape. There were also, of course, many more abortions which did not take place within the health care system. But this is a start!!

On 27-28 April, Miles Chile trained 25 health professionals from 10 hospitals and health departments, including social workers, midwives and doctors from public hospitals in the greater metropolitan area of Santiago. The training covered understanding the law and complying with the three legal grounds, up-to-date information about quality of care and abortion methods, and dealing with complications of unsafe abortions.

Continued: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/chile-legal-abortions-in-chile-since-the-new-law-was-passed-and-response-to-political-pushback/

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Belgium again debates removal of abortion from the Penal Code

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Belgium again debates removal of abortion from the Penal Code

by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
May 11, 2018

On 20 July 2016 we reported that a member of the Ecolo (Green) Party in Belgium had tabled a bill to remove abortion from the Penal Code so that it was no longer regarded as a criminal offence, and that this was not the first attempt to do so.

On 21 March 2017, we reported that there had been a rush of media stories announcing a campaign in Belgium that was variously calling for modernisation of the abortion law, decriminalisation of abortion, and complete removal of abortion from the Penal Code. And that there was a strong majority in support in the country. The necessity for some Belgian women to travel to other countries in Europe for second trimester abortion was especially condemned. Unfortunately, nothing happened.

Continued: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/belgium-belgium-again-debates-removal-of-abortion-from-the-penal-code/

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Chilean women’s lives at risk with ‘backdoor’ restrictions on new abortion law

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Chilean women's lives at risk with 'backdoor' restrictions on new abortion law

Anastasia Moloney
April 5, 2018

BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Women and girls in Chile, including rape victims, will find it harder to access legal abortions - after a total ban was lifted in August - as the government has started allowing clinics to deny services on moral grounds, campaigners said on Thursday.

The new law, allowing abortions when women’s lives are in danger or if a fetus is unviable or the result of rape, was welcomed by rights groups in a region with some of the world’s most restrictive abortion laws.

Continued: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-chile-abortion-women/chilean-womens-lives-at-risk-with-backdoor-restrictions-on-new-abortion-law-idUSKCN1HC2VI

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UK aid official offers ‘loud and strong’ support for access to abortion worldwide

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UK aid official offers 'loud and strong' support for access to abortion worldwide

By Sophie Edwards
09 March 2018

LONDON — A top United Kingdom aid official has reassured advocates that the Department for International Development remains a “loud and strong voice for universal access to sexual and reproductive health” services, including abortion, for women and girls in developing countries.

Speaking at the launch of a new report from the U.K. All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health, which calls for the U.K. government to support safe abortion at home and abroad, international development minister Alistair Burt said:

Continued: https://www.devex.com/news/uk-aid-official-offers-loud-and-strong-support-for-access-to-abortion-worldwide-92282

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YouTube Censorship: safe2choose account is suspended for promoting safe abortion information and access

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YouTube Censorship: safe2choose account is suspended for promoting safe abortion information and access

23rd February, 2018

One month since YouTube arbitrarily suspended the accounts of leading pro-choice organizations (only to go back on its decision a few days later), the social media platform has targeted another reproductive rights advocate: safe2choose, a social enterprise that connects women all around the world to accurate information and quality, affordable safe abortion pills.

YouTube claims that safe2choose is violating their guidelines by generating content that allegedly “encourages or promotes violent or dangerous acts that have an inherent risk of serious physical harm or death” (read more about YouTube policies here). And they’ve already denied our appeal.

Continued: https://safe2choose.org/youtube-censorship-safe2choose/

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Open Letter to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

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Open Letter to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
Nov 10, 2017
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Open Letter To:
Ms Catalina Devandas Aguilar
Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
c/o sr.disability@ohchr.org / crpd@ohchr.org

RE: “Concluding observations on the initial report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” CRPD/C/GBR/CO/1, 29 August 2017 (As adopted during the 18th session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (14 -31 August 2017)

9 November 2017

Dear Ms Devandas Aguilar and members of the CRPD,

I am the International Coordinator of the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion and an abortion rights advocate for more than 35 years, living in the UK. I am writing to you in a personal capacity regarding the “Concluding observations on the report of the UK to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”, as above.

Your recommendations to the UK overall are absolutely fair and just, but I am writing to take issue with those related to abortion, and to explain why. These are as follows:

Equality and non-discrimination (art. 5)

The Committee is concerned about perceptions in society that stigmatize persons with disabilities as living a life of less value than that of others and about the termination of pregnancy at any stage on the basis of fetal impairment.
The Committee recommends that the State party amend its abortion law accordingly. Women’s rights to reproductive and sexual autonomy should be respected without legalizing selective abortion on the ground of fetal deficiency.

My concerns regarding these recommendations are threefold: the first is to do with your definition of “a person”. The second is to do with the reasons why women have abortions vs. how different laws address and codify reasons for abortion as legal or illegal grounds. The third is that I believe including any ground for abortion in the law whatsoever – apart from permitting abortion at the woman’s request – is a mistake because it serves to restrict women’s autonomy and decisions over their own bodies.

Continued at source: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/open-letter-to-the-special-rapporteur-and-committee-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities/

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Trump administration halts money to UN population fund over abortion rules

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Trump administration halts money to UN population fund over abortion rules

International family planning agency, which will lose all future US funding, rejects state department claims it supports ‘coercive abortion’ in China

Liz Ford and Nadia Khomami
Tuesday 4 April 2017

The US state department said on Monday it was ending funding for the UN population fund (UNFPA) – the first concrete move in what activists describe as President Donald Trump’s “crusade against the health and rights of women and girls globally”.

Following weeks of speculation, a letter to Bob Corker, the chairman of the US Senate foreign relations committee, announced the state department was dropping the funding because the UNFPA “supports, or participates in the management of, a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilisation”.

Continued at link: The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/apr/04/trump-administration-un-population-fund-abortion

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A new ruling in the Brazilian Supreme Court prior to the hearing on the Zika submission

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A new ruling in the Braziliuan Supreme Court prior to the hearing on the Zika submission: notes from Debora Diniz and Sonia Correa

by Safe Abortion, Dec 6, 2016

27 November - It has just been announced that the Brazilian Supreme Court is set to rule on the preliminary injunction of the Zika case on 7 December 2016. The preliminary injunction request refers to all demands of the case: access to information, to wider choice on contraceptive methods, to pregnancy termination for pregnant women infected with Zika and experiencing mental suffering, to free transportation to rehabilitation centres and to the disability cash transfer programme for all children with the congenital Zika syndrome.

At this point it it hard to anticipate how votes will go, although it is expected that the Court may deny the injunction regarding abortion by saying they need more in-depth debate on the issue.

The Anis Institute of Bioethics filed an amicus curiae request on the case (as have two anti-choice organizations), but none have been ruled upon yet. We are working to try and schedule meetings with the Justices before 7 December.

1 December On 29 November, when ruling on a case involved the release of five employees accused of illegal abortion in a clandestine abortion clinic in a city neighbouring Rio de Janeiro, three Supreme Court Justices (members of one of the Court’s two chambers, composed of five Justices) went further than the case involved and ruled that abortion should not be a crime if performed in the first three months of pregnancy.

This extended opinion was delivered on 29 November by Justice Luís Roberto Barroso, accompanied by two other Judges, Rosa Weber and Edson Fachin. This opinion went beyond sustaining the release of the clinic staff to weave an argument in defence of the decriminalization of abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

A news report on the judgement explains: ‘For Justice Luís Roberto Barroso, the anti-abortion articles in the Criminal Code disrespect women’s basic rights. “Women bear alone the burden of pregnancy. Therefore, there will only exist gender equality if women have the right to decide whether to continue a pregnancy or not,” he wrote in his decision. Moreover, anti-abortion laws penalize low-income women who don’t have access to private clinics that would perform abortions in secret. Barroso said that the state should avoid pregnancy interruptions – but with sexual education policies and the distribution of contraceptive methods.’ See: plus55, 30 November 2016.
Debora Diniz continues: It is important to clarify, as there’s been some confusion even in the national media, that this decision does not mean the decriminalization of abortion in Brazil: it is just one case, and according to our procedural law, it is not a binding precedent. It is, however, a clear and strategic message, led by Justice Cardoso (who was the lawyer of our anencephaly case), that some Justices are ready to ask the right question on abortion cases, which is: how can abortion be considered a crime under the Brazilian Constitution’s provisions on gender equality, dignity, and right to health?

It is also a relevant framing for our Zika case, although they may not get into this debate specifically next week when ruling on the preliminary injunctions – but it may be of great importance for the final decision, whenever it comes. And it is a debate that we can work to further develop on other cases as well. The christian fundamentalist caucus at the National Congress is already making noise to push back against the new ruling, but this is nothing new, it is more of the same of what they have been doing over the last 10 years.

4 November

Sonia Correa writes: This was the first time the Court has expressed a comprehensive position on abortion rights. Four years ago, when considering termination of pregnancy in the case of anencephaly and stem cell research, the Court solidly affirmed that the absolute right to life from conception was not enshrined in the Brazilian Constitution. Judge Barroso’s opinion expresses the understanding that the fundamental rights of women provided for in the 1988 Constitution make the complete criminalization of abortion unconstitutional, as defined in the 1940 Penal Code, which is still in force today. According to Judge Barroso, while the potential life of the fetus is obviously relevant, the criminalization of abortion before the end of the first trimester of pregnancy violates several fundamental rights of women granted by the 1988 Constitution: personal autonomy, physical and mental integrity, sexual and reproductive rights and gender equality. The opinion also refers to racial inequality and discrimination and considers that the law as it is does not sufficiently observe the principle of proportionality necessary for the fair application of criminal justice.

Unfortunately, as soon as the news of the Court’s opinions was made public, members of the House of Representatives created a committee whose aims was to contest the judgment as a breach of interference by the Court in “a matter that is fundamentally the responsibility of the legislature”. It is worth remembering that this is an overtly conservative legislature, which has been openly attacking abortion rights since it was elected in 2015, and that a number of regressive bills are pending for a final vote, including the nefarious provisions that grant rights to the “unborn” (Statute of the Unborn) and make abortion a heinous and punishable crime under any circumstances. It is impossible to predict the unfolding of this pitched battle over abortion that now appears to divide the powers of the Brazilian republic nor the effect on the hearing on 7 December.

We will continue publishing reports as events unfold. The Sexuality Policy Watch newsletter will carry an expanded version of Sonia Correa’s analysis above later this week.

SOURCES: Email from Debora Diniz; plus55, 30 November 2016; Email from Sonia Correa;

See also the Campaign newsletter from 23 November for a full report on the Zika hearing scheduled for 7 December.
Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion

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“This victory on abortion has empowered Polish women – we’ll never be the same.” (Krystyna Kacpura, 6 October 2016)

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by Safe Abortion, October 7, 2016

Our congratulations to the women of Poland for the brilliant decision to call a national strike on 3 October, in which between 30,000 and 100,000 people, according to different reports, took to the streets to protest the threatened ban on abortion: the government couldn’t ignore you any longer.

According to Maritime First News, state-run radio in Poland reported that on 4 October Prime Minister Beata Szydlo had distanced the government from the bill because of the strike. They quoted her as saying at a news conference : “I want to state very clearly that the PiS [Law and Justice] government is not working on any legislation changing the rules on abortion in Poland.”

Polish Vice Minister, Jarosław Gowin, a devout Catholic, was also quoted by the BBC as saying on 4 October that the nationwide protest on Monday had given the government “food for thought”. He was also reported as saying that he wanted to calm those afraid that abortion could be completely banned in Poland. However, this is how his statement was reported in English: “Abortion will certainly not be banned when the woman is the victim of rape or if her life or health is in danger” and that the protests around the country had “taught [the government] humility”.

He did not mention what would happen with abortion on grounds of fetal abnormality. Whether that was a significant omission is unclear.

On 5 October in the evening, the committee selected by the Polish lower house of parliament to review the bill voted to reject it. On 6 October, the full lower house of parliament was set to vote on whether to push the bill back to the committee, or drop it completely. This was set to take place just before the European Parliament was due to hold a debate on Polish women’s human rights

Barbara Nowacka, an opposition politician who has been active in the “Black Protest” movement to stop further restrictions on abortion in Poland, asked on Twitter: “Wonder what will happen during the vote in Parliament. Did #BlackProtest scare them or is it just a trick before the European Parliament debate?”

What happened was a decision to reject the bill completely. In the most recent news reports in English, which had stopped by the end of the day on 6 October, the BBC reported that the lower house of the parliament had indeed voted the Stop Abortion bill down by a large majority – 352 to 58. In their report after the vote, the Guardian quotes Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of PiS party, as saying to the parliament: “PiS continues to back the protection of life. And it will continue to take action in this respect, but it will be considered action.”

An excellent commentary in response to all these events by Krystyna Kacpura, Executive Director of the Polish Federation of Women & Family Planning, was also published in the Guardian on 6 October, where she said: “This victory on abortion has empowered Polish women – we’ll never be the same.”

Here is a brilliant set of photographs and quotes of women who went on strike on Monday, 3 October 2016.

Photos by Karol Grygoruk, 4 October 2016 in Vice Poland article including the photo above

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

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