Sunday, May 31, 2009

Abortion rights in Chile: nonexistent  


This just goes to show that you can withhold reproductive rights all you want, but never underestimate the power of women helping women. We will always find a way.

Example A: with abortion being illegal in Chile since 1989 with no exceptions, women are turning to other methods to take control of their bodies. A network of feminist organizations has launched an abortion hotline for Chilean women, which will instruct them on how to safely self-abort using Misoprostol, a drug available by prescription used to treat gastric ulcers. It's truly upsetting that women in Chile have to resort to this, but I love that with no reproductive rights to speak for, feminists are at least attempting to ensure that self-induced abortions are safe.

Chile has one of the highest abortion rates in Latin America, with about a third of pregnancies ending in abortion. In fact, I remember reading in How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America that the countries with the strictest abortion laws often have the highest abortion rates. Hmm. According to

So what do women in Chile do in these circumstances? If they have money, they go to private clinics or doctors who practice abortions in safe, sanitized conditions. Or they may even pay for an air fare to the United States or a country where abortion is legal. Most, however, resort to unsafe clandestine abortions performed by people claiming to be midwives or doctors, paying anywhere between $500 and $1,000. And then there are those who concoct homemade solutions, using celery sticks, clothes hangers or knitting needles to provoke the loss of the fetus.

Of course, many of the women end up in the hospital. And that’s when doctors are faced with a dilemma: Should they preserve their patient’s confidentiality and privacy, or turn them over to the police as they are legally bound? Few call the police. Nonetheless, about 200 women have been arrested for having abortions in the past few years and are now on parole. A dozen are imprisoned.

You can learn more about the hotline from Women on Waves, and if you have the means, you can donate to help them provide reproductive services to women abroad. Also, you can read about Latin American abortion rights at the Center for Reproductive Rights, and you can donate to help support them in their mission to spread reproductive justice throughout the world.

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