Across the globe, travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders and shifting health care priorities have combined to make abortion an even more difficult procedure to obtain.
As hospitals around the globe direct their attention and resources toward helping COVID-19 patients, other medical needs are, inevitably, getting less attention. One of those is women's reproductive health and access, in particular, to abortion, as evidenced in a recent study by the advocacy group Marie Stopes International. In a recent report, the organization noted that between January and June, in 37 countries, nearly two million fewer women received abortions than in the same period last year.
• Travel restrictions and bans have had an impact as well, limiting options for women in places ranging from the United States to Poland, as they are unable to access abortions in other states or countries where it is considered an essential procedure.
By Ana Ionova, Rio de Janeiro
Oct 14, 2020
Paloma had just cobbled together enough money for a clandestine abortion when the coronavirus pandemic shuttered much of Brazil.
The 27-year-old had been raped late last year by an ex-boyfriend who remained a close family friend. The mother of two found out she was pregnant a few weeks later, after moving from her native Bahia to Minas Gerais, a nearby state, for work.
"I didn't know what to do," recalls Paloma. "The only thing I was certain of was that I didn't want this child."
Reproductive justice is about much more than the freedom to choose to terminate a pregnancy or not – it challenges systems of oppression and discrimination and calls for a focused action plan for law reform.
By Tlaleng Mofokeng
14 August 2020
Dignity, bodily integrity, equality, safety and security, and health – including reproductive health – are human rights.
States must work to ensure that all people, regardless of gender, age, immigration or documentation status, geography or class, are able to access life-affirming and comprehensive healthcare. No circumstances or interventions should lead to discrimination, obstruction of access to abortion, or complications or death due to unsafe procedures.
Low priority for reproductive health during lockdown leaves millions unable to access contraception or safe terminations
Neha Thirani Bagri in Mumbai
Published on Mon 13 Jul 2020
Sadhna Gupta* discovered she was pregnant just after India imposed a crippling lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The 21-year-old from the eastern Indian city of Bhubaneswar didn’t want to be pregnant. With no public transport available, clinics closed and Bhubaneswar at a standstill, she bought an abortion pill without consulting a doctor. While what she did was not unusual, Indian law requires a prescription for the pills from a licensed medical professional.
There would be no death, bleeding or suffering if abortion were recognized for what it is: a medical necessity
Debora Diniz and Giselle Carino
01 jul 2020
The news report described her as an anonymous 31-year-old woman. The subheading read: “Case happened in Bom Jesus do Norte” – or Good Jesus of the North. From what we know, she was the first woman to die from a clandestine abortion in Brazil during the coronavirus pandemic. The nameless woman “was two months pregnant,” according to her husband. Twice she sought help in spaces of death, at unsafe abortion houses. She tried a hose, potassium permanganate, syringes. She died of cardiac arrest. Why did she persist? We do not know, nor do her innermost reasons matter. It is enough to know that she was a woman determined not to be forced into maternity during the pandemic.
The pandemic killed her. Cause and effect can be debated in this narrative, that is true. Her death was not from Covid-19, but from the policies that rule women’s bodies as if they were material to be controlled by criminal law.
For women unable to gain access to legal abortions, the Las Socorristas en Red network is an essential lifeline, providing them with guidance, support and care in their moment of greatest need.
June 27, 2020
Even in the middle of the night, Irina Percara’s phone is always on full volume. She never knows when she’ll need to be reached.
Irina, 24, is one of 450 activists that form Las Socorristas en Red, a network of feminist groups across Argentina that guide women through abortions using misoprostol, a drug that safely terminates pregnancies during the first trimester.
“We help women who need abortions do it without guilt, without judgment, and without putting their health and safety at risk,” the activist told the Times.
Abortion 'doulas' in Chile risk prison, saying women need their help
“We are doing this because the law is insufficient."
May 28, 2020
By Liam Miller
SANTIAGO, Chile — The woman anxiously removes the SIM card from the cheap cellphone and cuts the chip into pieces before sweeping the fragments into the trash. When her nerves pass, she allows herself a small sigh of relief.
Despite using a "burner" phone like those associated with drug deals in TV crime series, this woman is using it for a different purpose. A college-educated professional, she's one of several women in a group of abortion "doulas," part of a clandestine network willing to break the law and face prison to help women obtain abortions, as long as it's medically safe to do so.
How a Network of Activists Are Helping Women Get Abortions in Argentina During Coronavirus Lockdown
By Ciara Nugent
May 1, 2020
These days, Ruth Zurbriggen finds herself having meetings at midnight. A university lecturer in the Argentine province of Neuquén, Zurbriggen spends her spare time helping other women get abortions in a country where the procedure is only legal in a few circumstances. Stuck at home because of a nationwide quarantine order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, women often need to speak at night, when their families or partners are asleep and can’t hear them talking about their decision.
Zurbriggen, 54, is a founding member of the Socorristas en Red (literally, Network of Lifeguards), a group of 504 activists spread across Argentina’s territory. The socorristas help women navigate the country’s health system, which, by law is meant to provide abortion in cases of rape or where the pregnancy is a risk to the health of the mother.
The Radical Future of Self-Managed Abortion Is Already Here
“I remember one woman who arrived and asked, ‘Is this the clinic?’ And we were like, ‘What clinic?’”
By Amy Littlefield and Laura Gottesdiener
March 4, 2020
Lizy and the woman who helped her to end her pregnancy met at a Starbucks in León, the largest city in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato. Then a 20-year-old social-work student with curly hair and a heart-shaped face, Lizy, which is a nickname we’ve used to help protect her identity, felt nervous about discussing her pregnancy in such a public place. She was afraid she could be jailed for even considering an abortion, which is a crime in most cases in the heavily Catholic and conservative state. Enrolled in an exchange program in a city where she knew few people, she had no way to make the hours-long trip to Mexico City, the only place where abortion was legal at the time. She and her partner felt hopeless. “We were dying from fear, really, we were two frightened children,” she said later, seated in a park in her home city of Guadalajara. Finally, she had confided in a professor who told her about Rosalía.
Women being pushed to the margins of society in Guatemala
Violence and discrimination are routine and many die in childbirth from largely preventable causes
Nov 18, 2019
Aisling Walsh, Naomi Elster, Guatemala City
Guatemala is marketed across the globe as the “Heart of the Mayan World”. Photographs of spectacular jungle pyramids and smiling indigenous women, carried on Piccadilly buses in London and splashed across screens in new York’s Times Square, promote a tourism industry worth almost $3.4 billion (€3 billion) a year.
On arriving in Guatemala, it is easy to recognise the vivid colours of Mayan traditional clothing and the dramatic scenery of imposing volcanoes, shimmering lakes and dense forests sliced into steep hills and sharp ravines.