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 – AGAIN ! More censorship by YouTube

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YOUTUBE – AGAIN ! More censorship by YouTube

by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
Feb 27, 2018

safe2choose reported on 23 February 2018 that their account on YouTube is the newest victim of anti-abortion censorship. The company has already refused their first appeal to have the account reinstated, and they are now planning their next moves. The video that triggered the suspension is a testimonial from a 42 year-old Malaysian woman who thanked safe2choose for supporting her through an abortion. There was no mention at all of the abortion process itself, which really made them ask: how arbitrary can these decisions be?

It seems YouTube does not provide an e-mail address to contact directly – so safe2choose wrote to their Help Center (where their first appeal was made). They had no luck. On their website, YouTube provide a postal address and a phone number.

Continued: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/youtube-again-more-censorship-by-youtube/

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Medical Abortion: A Special Edition of Contraception

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Medical Abortion: A Special Edition of Contraception
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
Jan 5, 2018

This special edition is due to be published in final form in print and online in the February 2018 edition of Contraception. Meanwhile, the papers can all be accessed on the home page of the journal at: http://www.contraceptionjournal.org/content/contra-medical-abortion-special-issue in HTML and PDF formats. All but three are fully open access. The remaining three have been made openly available by the journal’s editor to complete the set, for which we are very grateful.

EDITORIAL: Medical abortion pills have the potential to change everything
– Marge Berer, Lesley Hoggart

Continued at source: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/medical-abortion-a-special-edition-of-contraception/

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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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September 28: Statements from International Leaders and Members’ Activities

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Statements from International Leaders and Members' Activities

Sept 28, 2017

MARGE BERER, INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR WOMEN'S RIGHT TO SAFE ABORTION

International Safe Abortion Day, 28 September, follows closely on International Contraception Day, 26 September. These are two of the days in the calendar each year when we celebrate women's right to decide whether and when to have children. Today, we call on international and national leaders to acknowledge the importance of laws, policies, information and services for girls and women which support these rights – the right to use contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy, and the right to safe abortion when it is too late for contraception. We remind them that provision of safe, legal abortion is essential to fulfilling the global commitment to the Sustainable Development Goal of universal access to sexual and reproductive health (Target 3.7)." We urge them to work with advocates for women's health and rights, parliamentarians, health care providers and others to make these rights a reality for all those who need them.

Continued at source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: http://mailchi.mp/safeabortionwomensright/statements-from-international-leaders-and-members-activities-28-september-2017?e=3fa4c971b0

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Chile: Life Under the World’s Strictest Anti-Abortion Law

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Life Under the World’s Strictest Anti-Abortion Law

June 26, 2017 by Erin Becker
Santiago Times

A wavy-haired woman with a kind voice speaks into the camera. “I’m going to tell you how to do it.” Behind her, sun shines in Santiago, Chile. Cars honk; big red buses whiz by; men and women amble toward work.

The woman continues her instructions. Leave your house and buy something you normally would, she says: a newspaper, maybe, or bread. Then head to a busy intersection. “You’ll notice how some cars run the traffic lights.” Her face is serious. “Actually, they say that the faster they’re going, the slower their reaction time.”

Continued at source: Ms. Magazine: http://msmagazine.com/blog/2017/06/26/life-worlds-strictest-anti-abortion-law/

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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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Two case studies show what could happen in the US if abortion were outlawed

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Written by Cassie Werber
November 15, 2016

Abortion rights are set to become a political football again in the US and, by extension, in all the countries where US funding is used for women’s health and reproductive care.

US president-elect Donald Trump indicated this week that he plans to roll back abortion rights. He chose the vehement anti-abortionist Mike Pence as his vice president, and the Republican party that nominated him has a long history of trying to restrict such rights.

[continued at link]
Source: QZ.com

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Anne-Marie Rey, pioneer in the struggle for abortion rights in Switzerland, has died aged 78

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IN MEMORIAM: Anne-Marie Rey
15 July 2016

3 September 1937 - 25 June 2016

Anne-Marie Rey, pioneer in the struggle for abortion rights in Switzerland, has died aged 78

Anne-Marie Rey, a socialist and supporter of the rights of women throughout her life, has died suddenly and unexpectedly of acute heart failure on 25 June at the age of 78. She was at the forefront of the struggle for the decriminalization of abortion in Switzerland for over 40 years.
She is best known as one of the founders of USPDA, l'Union suisse pour décriminaliser l'avortement (Swiss Union for the Decriminalization of Abortion), who made an enormous contribution to the legalization of abortion in Switzerland, which took place in 2002.

Anne-Marie grew up in Burgdorf, a small rural town in canton Bern, in the heart of rural Switzerland. Her commitment to abortion rights was first learned from her father, who was a gynaecologist. Abortion was not completely illegal in Switzerland and the law could be interpreted to allow some abortions, though interpretations differed. Anne-Marie's father's understanding of the law allowed him to welcome patients sent by colleagues who felt they could not take the responsibility to provide abortions, and he was known far beyond the canton's borders to terminate pregnancies.

Anne-Marie studied to be a translator/interpreter at the University of Geneva from 1962-65. While working for the Swiss federal government, she also studied dance. It was at that time that she found herself with an unwanted pregnancy. To her great relief, her father terminated the pregnancy for her.  A few years later she was a young mother with three children and began to develop her political commitment to abortion rights.

She became an avid reader of medical publications on clandestine abortions, where she learned of the numerous deaths arising from unsafe interventions, as well as the many criminal convictions under Swiss law. It was following the publication of an article she wrote in the journal Bund on clandestine abortions that she was contacted in 1970 by a lawyer, Fritz Dutler, who wanted to launch a popular initiative whose aim was the decriminalization of abortion. But they had to wait for women to get the right to vote (granted only in 1971 by a referendum among Swiss men) and a parliamentary motion by Maurice Favre, a member of the Radical Party from Neuchâtel. This came as the result of several indictments against doctors and two women in the canton of Neuchâtel, and was the start of the first initiative to repeal the clauses in the Swiss Penal Code which had threatened, since 1942, imprisonment for abortions not allowed under the law.

The first initiative for a referendum was launched by Anne-Marie and four other women at the end of 1971, without the support of any political parties, and attracted opposition in Catholic and conservative circles. "Although we were only five at the beginning, the word spread like wildfire and many groups joined us, such as the Movement for the Liberation of Women (MLF), who collected a large part of the signatures for the initiative." USPDA was founded in 1973 and quickly gained 4,000 supporters. In 1976, a second motion was tabled in Parliament, but only two members of the Socialists, Jean Ziegler and Arthur Villard, spoke in support of it. Considered too radical, even by its initiators, the motion was withdrawn, and a more moderate version developed that called for legal abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy. Anne-Marie said: "It was a strategic choice. We feared that if we got a massive rejection, it would be harder to win later." The initiative was rejected by the people in a referendum in 1977, but by only 51.7% of the votes. "Our opponents spent millions on the campaign. In comparison, our means were laughable."

After that, the USPDA decided to keep a low profile for ten years, not wanting to lose another vote, but in Anne-Marie's house, where the USPDA was based, they remained active and engaged in discreet lobbying of parliamentarians with medical and scientific facts.

As it turned out, the lack of a victory was only partial. The law on abortion did begin to be liberalised in several cantons. Then, an initiative called "For the right to life" by anti-abortionists was rejected in a national referendum in 1985.

From 1987 to 1995, Anne-Marie served as a representative of the Social Democratic Party (SP) in the Bernese Cantonal Parliament. She also remained the driving force of the abortion rights movement. It took another three decades after the 1971 initiative before the USPDA achieved its aims. On 2 June 2002, the Swiss people voted to approve abortion on request up to 12 weeks, by a 72.2% majority. The same day, they rejected the initiative "Pour la mère et l’enfant" (For the mother and child) proposed by conservative circles, with a vote of 81.7% against.

Their task accomplished, they thought at the time, the members of the USPDA decided in 2003 to dissolve the association. "We believed we would never have to revisit this major achievement. We were wrong."

Translator, writer, political activist
In her memoirs, published in 2007, Anne-Marie recalled the experiences and destinies of the last Swiss women who died from illegal abortions and others who were convicted of illegal abortions during the 1980s. She also wrote about the fact that her father had been convicted twice for doing illegal abortions himself. She describes her despair, helplessness and anger over her own unintended pregnancy and from it, how she understood the importance of the struggle for the liberalisation of abortion. The book's title, Die Erzengelmacherin (which has beene translated as the archangel-maker or the Pope of abortionists) originated from a dismissive comment by a hostile member of the Swiss Parliament, which she took as a compliment and adopted with pride.

In 2014, at the age of 76, she was still actively working for abortion rights and maintaining a database and sharing information on abortion. Her steadfast support up to the days before her death for Dr Carlos Morín in Spain, who has also been prosecuted for abortions he believed were justified under the law, must have been spurred by memories of the prosecution of her father when she was young.

Le Courrier published the story of her life's work in her own words:

"I am still not tired and when I rebel, I do not do it by half."

"I owe my commitment to my father… Clandestine abortions in Switzerland stood between 20,000 and 50,000 per year in the 1960s. But it was especially the recurring injustices that served as the breeding ground for my activism. There were deaths as a result of clandestine abortions and convictions. There was no sex education nor suitable means of contraception. The pill, which had just come on the market, was high dosage, and my father refused to prescribe it for me."

"It was the personal trauma that transformed my indignation into political activism. I was 24 years old, well-informed and protected, but contraceptive failure caused an unintended pregnancy. I had major life projects and all of it was going to be ruined by a faulty diaphragm. I cried, I was angry, my whole body was in revolt against this pregnancy. I was in great psychological distress…  After the abortion, I felt relieved. The anti-abortion movement endlessly invokes the physical and psychological injury from an abortion, but this is false in most cases. An unwanted pregnancy is a much heavier trauma for a woman."

If she is now a bit in retreat, it is "because we must leave the struggle to the younger generations to fight for their rights". But her anger is still there: "An embryo of a few millimeters, as a potential life in gestation, is not the equivalent of a baby. It may not be prioritised to the detriment of a woman of flesh and bones, who has a history, life plans and an existence. Abortion is not a choice against life but a means of its defence."

Anne-Marie's legacy
Dr Christian Fiala, Specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Gynmed Clinic, Vienna, writes:

"As far as women's rights are concerned, Anne-Marie realised that one may never assume that a once gained right would apply forever. In 2014, a referendum entitled "Financing abortion is a private matter" called for removing state payment for abortion from the basic health insurance list and said "Those who make up their minds in favour of abortion should bear the costs themselves." The initiative was widely rejected in the vote.

"Anne-Marie regarded the right to decide for abortion as an important step towards equality between men and women: ”As long as women may not choose their motherhood freely, equality between the sexes will remain a dream.“ Decade after decade, Anne-Marie Rey continued her intense lobbying work while continuing to work as translator and raising three children.

"Due to the efforts of Anne-Marie and her fellow activists, Switzerland today ranks high among the countries with very low abortion rates. Currently, only one in ten pregnancies ends in induced abortion, while it used to be one in every three in the 1960s."

Dr André Seidenberg, Specialist in General Medicine, Zürich, writes:

"After the victory in 2002, while others withdrew from loss of interest, Anne-Marie remained active in the field. Nobody knew more about the history of abortion and facts on abortion. She gathered crucial information and data on the practice of abortion in Switzerland and resolutely collected statistical data from nearly every hospital in Switzerland. Based on this, she argued for improved services and methods of termination of pregnancy. With continuing disbelief, she had to face the fact that in Switzerland today, it is still not possible to offer a late abortion to every woman who needs it.

"Up to her last day she was a tireless fighter for the rights, needs and dignity of women and of all people. Even during her last weeks she was giving essential aid to women in emotional distress. The last update of her website was only one week before her death, and her last e-mail only one day before.

"Nobody can replace her. We miss her every day."

Her husband and three children survive her. She leaves behind many people working for abortion rights who were proud to be able to work with her, learned a huge amount from her, enjoyed her company and her wit, and respected and cared deeply for her.

Translated and edited by Marge Berer

SOURCES:
Photograph: Hans Jakob Rey/Christian Fiala
Text in memoriam: Christian Fiala, Newsletter, Museum of Contraception and Abortion, Vienna, July 2016
Text in memoriam, by André Seidenberg, Zurich, 13 July 2016
Le Courrier, 28 juin 2016
Wikipedia, Anne-Marie Rey
Le Courrier, by Matteo Maillard, 20 janvier 2014

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

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