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Latin America, when accessing legal abortion is almost impossible

90% of women in the region live in countries that restrict the termination of pregnancy. Prohibition leads to clandestine and unsafe practices

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Latin America, when accessing legal abortion is almost impossible

The Dominican Rosaura Almonte was diagnosed with leukemia when she was seven weeks pregnant. The doctors refused to treat her because drugs jeopardized life of fetus. He died at age of 16. At 19, Ida became pregnant after constant violations of a relative. The Nicaraguan authorities prevented him from aborting, and young woman, with intellectual disability, was forced to give birth. Theodora served almost 11 years in a prison in El Salvador, condemned after suffering a miscarriage in bathroom of school where he worked. And ir cases are constantly repeated in Latin America, a region where countries are concentrated on some of world's most severe reproductive rights legislations.

About 90% of women of reproductive Age in Latin America and Caribbean live in countries with restrictive abortion laws. In six — El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, and Surinám — voluntary interruption of pregnancy is completely prohibited. It is not even allowed to save life of women, as in case of Rosaura — known as ' Esperancita ' —. Eight or states allow it almost exclusively to save women's lives, and only a few offer exceptions in cases of rape (Brazil, Panama and Chile, for example) and serious fetal anomalies. Tens are counted by preys for abort; By thousands those obliged to continue with gestation or forced to resort to a clandestine abortion; And by hundreds dead because of refusal of health workers to interrupt ir pregnancy, as denounced by human rights organizations.

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"It is clear that in most Latin American countries, women's lives are of little value or None," laments Morena Herrera, a historic activist and member of Association for decriminalization of abortion in El Salvador. For civil rights organizations, decriminalization abortion in three cases in Chile (risk for life of women, rape and fetal anomalies) last year was a great hope, as it has been Argentina, that this Thursday has taken a key step towards Legalization of this sanitary intervention. Steps that can transform reality of an ultraconservative continent and with a huge problem of gender inequality.

In El Salvador, women's organizations have been trying to advance a law to allow abortion in cases of risk to women's health, rape or serious fetal abnormalities. They have yet to be debated, despite calls to UN order, which considers that legislation such as hers is a risk to women's health and life.

The small Central American country is for many one of most extreme examples of what constitutes total prohibition of this health benefit. In this country re are at least a score of women prisoners convicted of homicide aggravated by abortion-related offenses, although in most cases y claimed an involuntary loss. Many, y didn't even know y were on tape. As Imelda, 19 years old and has been a prisoner for almost two in a prison in east of country. The young woman, raped by her stepfar, was unaware that she was pregnant until she was put in labor in latrine of her house. The creature lived, but doctors who attended Imelda denounced it. The young woman moved from hospital to jail, charged with attempted murder. A team of lawyers has appealed case.

The ban on abortion has also failed to reduce se interventions. It has only led women to resort to clandestine and unsafe methods, as concluded by two studies by World Health Organization (WHO) and Guttmacher Institute published in Lancet in 2012 and 2017. And it is almost always poorest women who are affected by veto. "The rich leave country to abort, poor resort to clandestine abortion or are forced to go ahead with pregnancy," denounces Nicaraguan activist Cari Gaviria.

The severe restriction of abortion poses a serious public health problem. At least 10% of maternal deaths in Latin America and Caribbean are due to unsafe abortions. and annually, some 760,000 women in region are treated for complications arising from clandestine interventions, notes a study published in International Journal of Obstetrics Gynaecology.

Internet and social networks have facilitated access to pharmacological abortion to many, even if acquired on black market. Also to advice of specialized organizations through network. However, in rural areas and women with fewer resources are forced to use extremely dangerous methods, such as inserting a cater into vagina, or acid; Or to take medicines or preparations at home outside of any control.

It also coincides, denounces Herrera, that countries where abortion is restricted or totally prohibited, access to modern contraceptives is not simple or even limited. So much so that around 24 million of women of reproductive Age in Latin America and Caribbean have an unmet need for modern contraception — that not based on methods considered natural or traditional — according to UN calculations with data from 2017.

And Depenalization is also no guarantee in some places. As in Costa Rica, where law technically allows abortion by risk to health of pregnant but in practice access to intervention is almost impossible in public health, warns lawyer expert in human rights Larissa Arroyo Navarrete. It is what happened to Ana and Aurora, who were prevented from aborting despite being pregnant with fetuses with abnormalities incompatible with life. Both have denounced Costa Rica before Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

That institution has already condemned or countries for similar situations. As to Peru, which not only forced a 17-year-old pregnant girl to continue pregnancy of a anencephalic fetus (without a brain) but also forced her to breastfeed four days she remained alive after childbirth. The girl, known as K. L. Still today drags consequences of what she lived. He considers it torture.


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