“You have to keep fighting”: Uruguayan Feminists Work to Build on their Gains

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“You have to keep fighting”: Uruguayan Feminists Work to Build on their Gains

Aug 2, 2018

"For us, the issues of women’s bodies, their freedom, their autonomy is a big part of the struggle for women’s empowerment and emancipation in a patriarchal system." — Lilian Abracinskas, Mujer y Salud en Uruguay

For women in many Latin American countries, the small nation of Uruguay might seem like the country that could. After years of organizing and education by a determined feminist movement and its allies, Uruguayan women have made important gains in sexual and reproductive health and rights, including a law passed in 2012 that provides for legal abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Yet the feminist movement here knows well that any wins must be constantly defended, and progress only comes after tremendous effort.

Founded in 1996, Global Fund for Women grantee partner Mujer y Salud has been at the forefront of this movement, carefully devising a strategy of alliances that led to the victory. But one thing its members know is that sexual and reproductive rights aren’t just guaranteed on paper, and that laws—no matter how progressive they are—are a starting point, not an end, when it comes to assuring that all women can exercise control over their bodies and their lives.

Continued: https://www.globalfundforwomen.org/mujer-y-salud/#.W2ScqdUzbcu

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Why the fight for legal abortion is only half the battle

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Why the fight for legal abortion is only half the battle

July 13, 2018
By Shannon Kowalski and Susan Wood

For years, Irish women have been forced to travel abroad or seek underground abortion services. But, a historic vote in May delivered a landslide rebuke that rescinded the country’s constitutional provision recognizing the equal rights to life of both a woman and a fetus, opening the door to expanded reproductive autonomy. The euphoria over this victory has barely settled, and already steps are being taken to curb Irish women’s hard-won right. The new front of resistance to women’s rights emerges from those who seek to allow medical professionals to deny women abortion services based on their own religious or moral beliefs. It would be a mistake for Ireland’s legislators to allow such refusals, which ultimately endanger and discriminate against women.

Since 2000, 28 countries have liberalized their abortion laws. In response to this progress, anti-choice advocates and policy makers have mounted a deliberate campaign to undermine women’s access to legal abortion services. A primary tactic has been establishing laws and policies that allow doctors to opt out of fulfilling their professional obligation to provide health care services on the basis of their personal beliefs. The use of these so-called “conscience” claims is on the rise worldwide.

Continued: http://www.euronews.com/2018/07/13/why-the-fight-for-legal-abortion-is-only-half-the-battle-view

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Expert group denounces the refusal to treat under ‘conscientious objection’

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Expert group denounces the refusal to treat under 'conscientious objection'

Joyce Arthur
July 5, 2018

For the first time ever, an expert group has arrived at a majority consensus that the practice of so-called "conscientious objection" by health-care professionals should not be allowed. The experts agreed that the practice of refusing to provide legal and essential health care due to a doctor's personal or religious beliefs is a violation of medical ethics and of patients' right to health care. Abortion and other reproductive health care are the most commonly refused services.

Unconscionable: When Providers Deny Abortion Care is the title of the expert group's just-released report with recommendations. It is a product of the first global meeting on the topic of "conscientious objection," which took place in Montevideo, Uruguay in August 2017 because the refusal to treat is a major barrier to abortion access in many Latin American countries.

Continued: http://rabble.ca/columnists/2018/07/expert-group-denounces-refusal-treat-under-conscientious-objection

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Unconscionable: Health workers’ right to refuse abortions vs women’s right to choose

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Unconscionable: Health workers' right to refuse abortions vs women's right to choose
When religion trumps science in medicine, women's bodies and Constitutional rights may be caught in the crossfire.

21 Jun 2018
Marion Stevens, Mandi Mudarikwa

South Africa‘s Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act legalises voluntary abortion at different stages of pregnancy. Although viewed as a generally liberal law, the Act has not effectively enabled broad and consistent access for women seeking to terminate their pregnancies.

One of the reasons has been some health providers’ and facilities’ refusal to treat women who need abortion care.

Continued: http://bhekisisa.org/article/2018-06-21-00-unconscionable-a-doctors-right-to-refuse-abortions-versus-a-womens-right-to-choose

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Unconscionable: When Providers Deny Abortion Care

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Unconscionable: When Providers Deny Abortion Care

June 19, 2018
Click here to download the report [PDF]

The global women’s movement has fought for many years to affirm safe and legal abortion as a fundamental right, and the global trend has been the liberalization of abortion laws. Progress is not linear, however, and persistent barriers prevent these laws and policies from increasing women’s access to services. One such obstacle is the growing use of conscience claims to justify refusal of abortion care.

Often called “conscientious objection,” a concept historically associated with the right to refuse to take part in the military or in warfare on religious or moral grounds, the term has recently been co-opted by anti-choice movements. Indeed, accommodations for health care providers to refuse to provide care are often deliberately inserted into policies with the aim of negating the hard-fought right to abortion care.

Existing evidence reveals a worrisome and growing global trend of health care providers who are refusing to deliver abortion and other sexual and reproductive health care. This phenomenon violates the ethical principle of “do no harm,” and has grave consequences for women, especially those who are already more vulnerable and marginalized.

Continued: https://iwhc.org/resources/unconscionable-when-providers-deny-abortion-care/

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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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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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Uruguay Solidarity Request: Please sign statement calling for release of young woman in prison for miscarriage

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Uruguay Solidarity Request

by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion, April 7, 2017

Statement: A court has put a young woman in prison for miscarriage

by Mujer y Salud en Uruguay (MYSU), 4 April 2017
PLEASE SIGN THIS STATEMENT CALLING FOR HER RELEASE

A young woman has this week been sentenced to a term in prison for homicide in the city of Rivera in Uruguay. She gave birth in the bathroom of her house unaware that she was even pregnant. She was accused of manslaughter, which the judge, Darwin Rampoldi, used to sentence her for having “aborted” the pregnancy.

This is the second time this year that the Uruguayan justice system has been responsible for a blatant injustice, void of any gender perspective. The circumstances, as narrated in the judgment, are masterfully misogynistic.

Before she was even taken to court, however, the young woman had been judged and condemned by the health professionals who attended her in the Public Hospital. The initial diagnosis was of “abortion” followed by a series of gynaecological examinations that determined that she had given birth. She was then taken to the maternity ward, and only six hours after admission, a doctor thought to ask: “Where is the baby?”.

In the trial, there were testimonies from doctors, neighbours and relatives. In her own words, the young woman told the court that she had felt a strong pain, but had had no idea that she was pregnant. She told her partner that she thought it could be ovarian pain, but that she wasn’t going to go to the doctor because “they will laugh at me”.

This is not the first time that a woman has been criminally prosecuted in Uruguay under these circumstances. Yet no State institution has intervened to prevent and address these unfortunate situations. Instead, the Penal Code is invoked, and women are put on trial and sent to jail without justification.
We call on the Judiciary to ensure that its members receive regular training in human rights issues as well as greater awareness of the use of legal processes so as to ensure gender justice. We also call on the Judiciary to monitor the performance of judges in invoking the criminal law in such cases. We believe an analysis of such judgments would provide an account of the extent of gender bias and prejudice in judicial rulings, and expose the extent to which they reinforce gender stereotypes and biased social values – such as those which assume that a woman who has an unexpected pregnancy and gives birth in very precarious conditions must have murdered a baby.

We also denounce the attitude and intervention of those health professionals who, instead of attending to a woman who found herself in this situation, mistreated, belittled and judged her. Health professionals are neither judges nor police officers; their role is not to condemn but to ensure the highest quality of care for the patient who requires it, regardless of her socioeconomic class and educational level, let alone her “motives”.

We demand the immediate release of this young woman and the effective intervention of all the State institutions that are involved, to ensure her release.

TO SIGN THIS STATEMENT, PLEASE SEND YOUR GROUP/NAME, POSITION, CITY, COUNTRY, TO: mysu@mysu.org.uy
COMUNICADO EN ESPAÑOL: http://www.mysu.org.uy/multimedia/noticia/comunicado-ante-procesamiento-con-prision-de-mujer-en-rivera/ ;

Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion:
http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/uruguay-solidarity-request/

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In Uruguay, Where Abortion Is Legal, a Judge’s Ruling Grants a Man the Right to Stop a Woman’s Decision

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In Uruguay, Where Abortion Is Legal, a Judge's Ruling Grants a Man the Right to Stop a Woman’s Decision
Posted 4 March 2017
Written by Fernanda Canofre

A girl meets a guy. They have an on-and-off relationship for six months, until they mutually agree it’s not working anymore. It might sound like a common modern-day romance, except for the fact that not long after the girl finds out she is pregnant.

There's where things got complicated.

After considering her options and talking with her former partner, she decides not to continue with the pregnancy, but when she starts the process of interrupting it — something guaranteed by law in her country, Uruguay, until the 12th week of pregnancy — she finds out there's a legal complaint against her.

Her ex-partner wanted “to protect the life of his unborn child,” and with the help of a female judge, it was decided that “constitutionally” the fetus’ rights prevailed over the woman’s rights. The legal order came in a critical moment, when the 12-week period in which abortion is legal was about to close.

Continued at source: Global Voices: https://globalvoices.org/2017/03/04/in-uruguay-where-abortion-is-legal-a-judges-ruling-grants-a-man-the-right-to-stop-a-womans-decision/

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Young woman denied a legal abortion may take legal action against judge in Uruguay

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Young woman denied a legal abortion may take legal action against judge in Uruguay
by Safe Abortion, March 3, 2017

A judge in the city of Mercedes, Soriano, has ruled against a woman having an abortion who was booked for the abortion on 23 February. The ruling came after her ex–partner tabled an amparo asking the court to delay the abortion so that he could challenge her decision. The judge agreed to hear the case and then assigned a solicitor for the fetus, who was permitted to question the woman about her reasons for seeking an abortion. The judge then refused the abortion. The case caused a wave of reaction from political organisations and women’s groups who support the 2012 reform of the abortion law.

Margarita Percovich, a former senator and driving force behind the 2012 law reform, explained to PáginaI12: “The decision of the judge was clearly unconstitutional because the ruling was not based in existing law and did not comply with existing regulations on abortion”.

The woman is 24 years old and was 10 weeks pregnant when the case was heard. The lawyer for the young woman said he felt “a profound personal and professional outrage” at the ruling of the judge, and appealed the ruling. The appeal would have to have been heard within 10 days as the law permits abortion on request only up to 12 weeks. It was thought the case might end up in the Supreme Court.

However, on 1 March El Observador reported that the woman had had a miscarriage. Her solicitor stated that she had been under a huge amount of stress because of the case and confirmed that there was firm medical evidence that the miscarriage was spontaneous.

On 2 March, El Observador reported that the woman will take legal action against the judge who denied her an abortion, in order to prevent other women having to go back to the backstreets for illegal abortions. She said: “These last weeks have been absolutely terrible; the whole world wanted to have an opinion about my body.”

In a statement published on 25 February, before the woman miscarried, Lilián Abracinskas, director of Mujer y Salud en Uruguay (MYSU), who have been supporting the woman throughout the case, said that the court did not have the right to intervene in the woman’s decision: “It is clearly stipulated in the law that no one can interfere in the decision of the woman, from any side. The court has tried to reopen a debate that ended in 2012 and made a ruling that is not in accordance with the letter of the law, nor permitted to the man involved. It is not in the power of the court to rewrite the law. When a judge seeks to use their powers to impose their own beliefs and ideology, we have a very serious problem.”

Her biggest concern was that this was an attempt to set a precedent for men who want to influence women’s decisions and use the courts to take control over women’s bodies. “It is not a coincidence that this case has arisen in Soriano, which is one of the last bastions of resistance to the 2012 abortion law. In that part of the country, 100% of gynaecologists are conscientious objectors,” she said.

SOURCES: El Observador, 2 March 2017 ;  El Observador, 1 March 2017 ;  Páginal12, by Jeremías Batagelj, 25 February 2017. VISUAL: El Observador ; SEE ALSO: Espectador, 24 February 2017 (todos en español)

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Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/young-woman-denied-a-legal-abortion-may-take-legal-action-against-judge-in-uruguay/

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