3 February 2016

Abortion: Public Health, Law and Policy

 3 February 2016
Guerilla Campaign for Safe Abortion Act posters


Premier News, Sierra Leone, front page story
The Campaign's press release was used for the front page story in Premier News, Sierra Leone, on 1st February. See: http://conta.cc/20jodmG 

Premier News, front page, 1 February 2016

Tags: Sierra Leone, abortion law and policy


29 January - 1 February 2016

On 1 February, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus an international public health emergency which required a coordinated response. This alert puts Zika in the same category of concern as the Ebola virus and means research and aid will be fast-tracked to tackle the infection. Margaret Chan, WHO Director General, said the priorities were to protect pregnant women and their babies from harm and to control the mosquitoes that are spreading the virus.

Of note in the BBC report of this announcement is a short video of a Brazilian journalist Ana Carolina Caceres, who has microcephaly and who has grown up and lived an unaffected life. She seeks to remind everyone that not every baby born with this condition will fail to develop or die. Unfortunately, she also uses her one minute 20 seconds to criticise women who have abortions too.

Brazil Supreme Court to be asked to legalise abortion for microcephaly
A group of Brazilian lawyers, activists and scientists will ask the country's supreme court to allow abortions for women who have contracted the virus. Abortions are illegal in Brazil, except in health emergencies, cases of rape and, since a Supreme Court decision in 2012, also anencephaly as a fatal fetal anomaly. The petition is to be delivered to the Supreme Court in about two months' time.

Debora Diniz, a law professor at Brasilia University and with the Anis Institute of Bioethics in Brasilia, discussed in a BBC interview why the action needed around the Zika virus is a women's rights issue, not just an abortion issue. It has to be fought, she said, as a public health battle against the mosquitoes and as a women's sexual and reproductive rights case. The women most at risk of the Zika virus don't even have access to antenatal care, she said, so they cannot get an antenatal diagnosis of the Zika virus. The issue is therefore also the wider public health needs of the poor. "It is important to remember," she said, "when we talk about abortion and reproductive rights in general, that we have a social class split in Brazil - wealthy women will access safe abortion, legal or illegal, and poor women will go to the illegal market or continue to be pregnant."

Because abortion on grounds of anencephaly is legal in Brazil, there is some hope that microcephaly will also be accepted as a grounds for legal abortion. Microcephaly is not always fatal but it is apparently associated with a high rate of miscarriage, stillbirth and post-natal death if there is limited brain development. Whether the extent of damage can be determined antenatally will as yet have not  been studied. At the same time, however, anti-abortion politicians are attempting to make abortion on grounds of rape illegal in the country again. And test kits for Zika cost £150 in Brazil, more than the monthly minimum wage.

What will happen where all abortions are illegal?
El Salvador does not allow abortion to save women's lives. So why would they consider allowing abortion for a new fetal anomaly when they don't accept fatal anomalies like anencephaly, let alone that women's lives are worth saving.

Rosa Hernandez, El Salvador director of Catholics for Choice, said in an interview with the Independent that the situation is absurd: How are we going to prevent pregnancies in these girls... [if] there are no emergency contraceptive pills available at health units after someone is raped?"

"What happens in a country where abortion is completely illegal?" asked Angelica Rivas of Acdatee, an NGO in El Salvador that advocates decriminalisation of abortion. "What can be expected is an increase in the rates of illegal abortions, unsafe abortions and a mental health issue for women."


Tags: World Health Organization, Brazil, El Salvador, fetal anomaly, Zika, abortion law and policy 


Bill allowing three grounds for legal abortion delayed

21 January 2016


La iniciativa de ley que busca despenalizar el aborto en Chile está por cumplir un año de que fue ingresada al trámite legislativo. Pese a que debería de votarse antes del 23 de enero, la falta de acuerdos en la Nueva Mayoría ha permitido que el proceso se quede estancado en la comisión de Constitución. A pesar de los intentos del poder Ejecutivo porque se apruebe, los tiempos políticos parecen indicar que el proyecto será postergado. Las críticas de grupos progresistas y feministas arrecian mientras el proyecto parece no avanzar pese a la evidencia de que 7 de cada 10 chilenos apoyan las causales legales para abortar.

(It has been a year since the bill seeking to allow abortion in Chile on three grounds entered into the legislative process. Despite the fact that it should have been voted on before 23 January this year, the lack of agreement among the new majority in the Congress has allowed the process become stuck in the Constitutional Committee. Despite attempts by the Executive Branch to urge that it is approved, some politicians have indicated that the bill will be put on hold. There has been criticism by progressive groups and feminist anger at this delay, given the evidence that 7 out of every 10 Chileans support the three legal grounds for abortion.)

No more forced motherhood

Tags: Chile, abortion law and policy


Coalition for the Prevention of Unsafe Abortion has launched national campaign to support abortion law reform bill

The Malawi Law Commission is currently in the final stages of drafting a new abortion law.

The Coalition for the Prevention of Unsafe Abortion (COPUA) has launched a national campaign to consolidate the youth voice in Malawi in calling for an expedited legal reform process on comprehensive abortion care, and to mobilise and engage policy makers to support law reform on safe abortion. They are holding meetings in different parts of the country.

Statistics from just one district hospital, Kasungu District Hospital, show that 727 women received post-abortion care in 2015 for complications. after terminating pregnancies unsafely elsewhere. Rodney Chaula, a clinician at the hospital, said two of the women had died from their injuries.

This information was revealed during a meeting between the Coalition for the Prevention of Unsafe Abortion (COPUA) and traditional and faith leaders in Kasungu to ask them to rally behind the Termination of Pregnancy Bill.

COPUA community mobilization chairperson Darlington Harawa said unsafe abortion remains a big challenge to Malawi, as the country seeks to achieve Zero Maternal Deaths. "The country loses about K 300 million annually on post-abortion care through medicines and equipment. There are about 100,000 abortions annually [most of them unsafe] which contributes to 17% of maternal deaths," said Harawa. "The bill if made into law will allow women to terminate a pregnancy safely when it endangers her life and in cases of incest, rape, defilement and fetal malformation."

COPUA Central Region Interface Meeting


Tags: Malawi, abortion law and policy, community mobilisation, young people


European Union 2016 budget requires medical care in humanitarian settings to include access to safe abortion

The European Union (EU), in September 2015, following the UK, acknowledged that female war rape victims' rights to medical care under the Geneva Conventions include abortion, irrespective of any restrictive abortion laws in war zones. Following this, the newly approved 2016 budget requires that EU humanitarian aid be provided "in accordance with international humanitarian law," and without "discrimination or adverse distinction." And, in a reference to the US Helms amendment, the budget mandates EU funds "not be subject to restrictions imposed by other partner donors."

"Sexual violence is a devastating weapon in the war-torn areas, these women and girls are war wounded and should be treated equally," said Sophie in 't Veld (Member of European Parliament, Netherlands, ALDE/ D66), during a speech on this budget language. "The EU is taking steps to ensure that EU humanitarian aid funds are not tainted by other donor countries - to force a girl enslaved by ISIS, kidnapped by Boko Haram or raped in the DRC to bear a child of her rapist, who may be, as a result, expelled from the community and condemned to poverty, is inhumane treatment."

Sophie in 't Veld, MEP, Netherlands

The US Helms amendment imposes abortion restrictions on all US foreign aid, which the US Obama Administration implements as a total ban on abortion, including medical services for girls and women raped in war. Janet Benshoof, President of the Global Justice Center in New York states: "This budget language shows the EU is serious about ensuring that the humanitarian entities they fund follow the Geneva Conventions, not the US abortion ban." According to Benshoof, the EU policies require changes in the practices of nearly all the major humanitarian entities currently providing medical care for war victims. including UN agencies.

The European Parliament was even more explicit in its 15 December 2015 Report for the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit, urging "that women and girls have access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services, including safe abortions, in humanitarian crises, rather than perpetuating what amounts to inhumane treatment, as required by international humanitarian law and as foreseen in the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols."

"With the endemic use of rape as a weapon of war in conflicts across the globe, this dramatic policy shift demonstrates a sea change toward ensuring that all girls and women raped in war are provided comprehensive medical care," says Benshoof.

posted on ReproHealth Law, January 2016

Tags: European Union, budget, humanitarian crises, safe abortion services, Geneva Conventions


Many Nepali women unaware of safe abortion

18 January 2016

At a programme organised in Kathmandu today by the Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP), Youth Champion Advocacy Network (Youth CAN) and Media Advocacy Group (MAG), it was reported that although abortion was made legal on broad grounds in 2002, a study has found that as many as 62% of women may still lack adequate information.

Anand Tamang, Director of the Center for Research on Environment Health and Population Activities (CREHPA) in Nepal reported that the unsafe abortion cases were mostly found in 13 districts, including Kaski, Tanahun, Kavrepalanchok and Bhaktapur.

Amand Tamang, CREPHA

Tags: Nepal, unsafe abortion, education


Planned Parenthood cleared; those who targeted Planned Parenthood face charges

26 January 2016

A Texas grand jury has cleared Planned Parenthood of misconduct after the abortion provider was falsely accused of selling fetal body parts for profit. Instead, the panel charged the film-makers behind the video containing the accusations with tampering with government records. The founder of the group responsible for having the video made was also charged - with buying human organs.

Eleven states - including Texas - launched investigations after the release of the videos. Nine have determined that Planned Parenthood did nothing wrong. The inquiries have yet to finish in Arizona and Louisiana.

Tags: USA, court case


Homosexualité et avortement : Ligue islamique des Oulémas lancent une "Fatwa" contre leur légalisation

(Homosexuality and abortion: Islamic League of Ulemas launches a fatwa against legalisation)

26 janvier 2016

Des imams lancent une "Fatwa" contre toute loi légalisant l'homosexualité et l'avortement. C'est du moins la résolution qui a sanctionné le congrès de la Ligue des Oulémas tenu lundi en marge de la Ziarra Omarienne à Dakar. "L'assemblée générale met en garde contre tout vote allant dans le sens de légaliser l'homosexualité. L'assemblée met aussi en garde contre toute politique allant dans le sens de promouvoir le port vestimentaire des homosexuels. L'assemblée met également en garde contre toute loi allant dans le sens de légaliser l'avortement". Voilà ce que les imams et oulémas de la Ligue islamique des Oulémas ont consigné dans leur déclaration relayée par Le Pop, repris par senego. Ces oulémas de la Rabita regroupent le Sénégal, le Mali, la Mauritanie, la Guinée et le Burkina Faso.

(The Islamic League of Ulemas has launched a "fatwa" against any law legalizing homosexuality or going in the direction of legalising abortion, during their Congress in Dakar Monday. These Ulemas of the Rabita come from Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Guinea and Burkina Faso.)

Tags: Africa, Islam, fatwa, abortion law and policy


Constitutional court decides to review the law on abortion

5 January 2016

The president of Croatia's Constitutional Court, Jasna Omejec, announced the start of a constitutional review of the law which allows abortion until the 10th week of pregnancy. The review will most likely happen by June 2016. The Women's Network of Croatia had campaigned against their doing so, because the motivation came from anti-abortion politicians.

Astra Network website: www.astra.org.pl

See Croatia a http://conta.cc/1Pi1vzW for their report

Tags: Croatia, abortion law review