The continent’s abortion laws are a patchwork of progress and setbacks. And for many, accessing the right care at the right time is still a lottery.
BY GRACE BROWNE
JUN 22, 2023
ON MAY 26, 2018, Irish women spilled onto the streets to celebrate a historic win for reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. The staunchly Catholic country had overwhelmingly voted to scrap the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, under which abortion was essentially illegal—one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world.
Five years on, the mood has sobered. Under the new laws, those seeking an abortion have to undergo a mandatory waiting period, adhere to strict time limits, and contend with a lack of providers. From 2019 to 2021, 775 people made use of their right to travel freely between the United Kingdom and Ireland to head to Britain to access abortion services. In 2020, despite the pandemic, nearly 200 people still traveled across the Irish Sea to get abortion care in the UK. The Abortion Support Network (ASN), a charity that helps people in Europe access abortion through telemedicine or by supporting travel, says every three days they hear from someone in Ireland looking for help.
A network of abortion-rights activists in Mexico is finding ways to offer assistance -- including shipments of abortion pills -- to women in the United States affected by recently imposed abortion bans in several states
By MARÍA TERESA HERNÁNDEZ, Associated Press
April 2, 2023
CHIHUAHUA, Mexico -- Marcela Castro’s office in Chihuahua is more than 100 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, yet the distance doesn’t prevent her from assisting women in the United States in circumventing recently imposed bans on abortion.
From the headquarters of Marea Verde Chihuahua, an organization that has supported reproductive rights in northern Mexico since 2018, Castro and her colleagues provide virtual guidance, as well as shipments of abortion pills for women who want to terminate a pregnancy on their own.
by Victoria Rossi
December 11, 2022
Ruth runs through a checklist as she packs. There’s ginger chews for nausea, chamomile tea for calm, two thick pads for bleeding. Inside seed packets of cantaloupes, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers, she slips two smaller plastic baggies containing abortion pills, which she’s labeled by hand.
A few months earlier, Ruth would feel her heart pound as she assembled the kits, a rush of adrenaline as she drove to mail them, wondering if she’d get stopped – and if stopped, arrested. Now, she said, “The fear is gone. And I’m just at righteous indignation.”
A colorful crowd of doctors, researchers and women’s activists convened in the Latvian capital to explore ways to use pills to circumvent anti-abortion laws.
By EMILY SCHULTHEIS
RIGA, Latvia — For two sunny, crisp autumn days in mid-September, Riga’s Stradiņš University felt like the epicenter of a self-styled global civil rights movement: to give every person, in every culture or country, regardless of laws, access to abortion pills.
In the hallways, women pored over posters showing the latest research on the effectiveness of abortion pills and other developments in abortion and contraception care. Representatives from pharmaceutical companies enthusiastically pitched their medications and products to doctors sipping coffee and tea during a break between panels. There were graphic novels about an at-home medical abortion and T-shirts printed with women’s self-stated reasons for ending a pregnancy; there were slogans printed on T-shirts like “Make Abortion Legal Again” and a video promoting abortion rights to the tune of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”
In Poland, abortion has been almost completely prohibited since 2020. Nevertheless, a network of anarchists and other feminists strives to ensure that those who need abortions can access them, legally or not. Now that abortion has been prohibited throughout many of the United States, as well, people in North America stand to gain from the experience of those who have already been confronting this situation for years. To learn how Polish activists use direct action and mutual aid to keep abortion accessible, we interviewed participants in this network.
Maintaining widespread access to abortion—legal or not—is crucial to saving lives and preserving the autonomy of those targeted by patriarchal power structures. It is also an essential part of the struggle to legalize abortion. As we argued in June, after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade,
A network of activists is helping women terminate pregnancies in countries where the procedure is banned.
BY CARLO MARTUSCELLI, EMILY SCHULTHEIS, MANDOLINE RUTKOWSKI AND JAKUB KORUS
OCTOBER 29, 2022
RIGA — If you want to get an abortion in Poland, Kinga Jelinska is happy to help. Legally terminating your pregnancy is almost impossible in the Eastern European country. Abortion is only allowed in the case of rape or incest, or when it threatens the life of the woman.
That’s where Jelinska comes in. She’s the co-founder and executive director of Women Help Women, an Amsterdam-based nonprofit that helps provide women with the pills needed for an at-home medical abortion. The service Jelinska’s group provides falls into a legal grey zone; self-induced abortion is illegal in a number of countries, but in Poland, it’s not explicitly banned.
Period tracking apps, car licence plate data and pregnancy registers are the latest tools experts warn are being harnessed to monitor women
By Harriet Barber, GLOBAL HEALTH REPORTER
7 October 2022
Surveillance data and technology are being exploited to stoke fear and prevent abortions in countries including the United States, China, Hungary and Poland.
Period tracking apps, car licence plate data and pregnancy registers are the latest tools activists warn are being harnessed to stop women using legal or geographic loopholes for terminations. All four countries have reversed abortion rights over the past two years.
Story, photographs by Kara Fox
CNN Video by Ladan Anoushfar and Louis Leeson, CNN
Wed September 28, 2022
It’s early evening in an affluent neighborhood in the Dutch city of Haarlem and bed and breakfast owners Arnoud and Marika are waiting for their next guest to arrive. They’ve prepared their single room for her, a brightly colored space with massive windows overlooking a leafy drive.
The traveller is a woman from France. She’s only staying one night, but her hosts want her to feel at home because she’s not here on vacation. She’s come to have a second-trimester abortion.
Ireland’s Struggle for Abortion Rights Should Be an Inspiration for the US
BY SINÉAD KENNEDY
Aug 22, 2022
Irish pro-choice activists had to overcome a rigid constitutional ban on abortion that was in place for more than 30 years. They succeeded by putting mass mobilization and a confident assertion of the right to choose at the heart of their campaign.
In May 2018, the Irish electorate voted by a two-to-one majority to remove or “repeal” the prohibition on abortion, known as the Eighth Amendment, from the country’s constitution. While opinion polls had suggested that pro-choice campaigners would win, most predicted a nerve-rackingly close result; certainly no one anticipated the sheer scale of the victory and the support for abortion access found across every section of society, from young to old, urban to rural.
by Akshata KAPOOR, AFP
July 4, 2022
Campaigners in Northern Ireland are closely watching US moves to restrict abortion, particularly concerns that women will now have to travel across states for terminations.
Abortion was only decriminalised in the British province in 2019 — 42 years after terminations were made legal up to 24 weeks in most circumstances in the rest of the UK.