Self-Induced Abortion in Times of Crisis, Part One

Self-Induced Abortion in Times of Crisis, Part One

Dried henna powder. Animal feces. Bleach. Grain alcohol. The wire coat-hanger. These are some of the many methods women throughout history have used to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. When the safe method for ending a pregnancy--a surgical or medical abortion--is not available, women turn to these alternative techniques, often risking their bodies and lives in the process. Such methods for terminating a pregnancy or inducing a miscarriage are hardly relics of the past. Improvements in contraceptive access, sexual education, women’s empowerment, and abortion access, though significant, have been disparate. In many places around the world, cultural, legal, and financial barriers continue to prevent women from accessing basic healthcare services like contraception and abortion. These obstacles are often magnified in times of crisis. Natural disasters, wars, economic crises, and a host of other factors can all further infringe upon women’s reproductive freedom. Women may lose access to healthcare services, or become uniquely vulnerable to violence. When faced with an unplanned, unwanted,...
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In Argentina, lawmakers move to expand reproductive freedom

In Argentina, lawmakers move to expand reproductive freedom

Lawmakers in Argentina's Congress narrowly approved a bill to legalize abortion earlier today, marking a hard-won victory for abortion rights activists. The bill, which would allow women to terminate pregnancies during the first 14 weeks, now moves to the Senate where it will face an even greater challenge. Yet many Argentinian women remain inspired and hopeful. Valencia García, a 39-year-old teacher, was moved to tears by the victory: "I have this indescribable sense of freedom."  ...
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Advocacy for Reproductive Justice

Advocacy for Reproductive Justice

Earlier this week, Willie Parker challenged members of the Duke Ob/Gyn Department to remember their role as patient advocates in an inspiring grand rounds lecture, “Advocacy for Reproductive Justice: How Much Fight is there in the Dog?” Dr. Parker, author of Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice, a memoir of how his evangelical upbringing influenced his decision to become an abortion provider, talked about racial and ethnic disparities in unwanted pregnancies, and how the Reproductive Justice movement evolved to address these and broader inequities in sexual and reproductive health. He described how limitations in Medicaid coverage for pregnancy and childcare services disproportionately impact the same groups of women at highest risk for unplanned pregnancy. When access to abortion services is limited, as has been steadily happening for the past 15 years, it is these women who are most vulnerable to not be able to exercise their own choice in determining when and how they want to raise their family. Dr....
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Ireland to Vote on Abortion Law Reform

Ireland to Vote on Abortion Law Reform

At the end of May, the Irish government will hold a referendum to decide if their long-standing constitutional ban on abortion should be repealed. Currently, unborn fetuses have a right to life equal to living humans, which has been interpreted as a ban on abortion in almost every single circumstance. If the referendum passes, the Irish Parliament will have the power to enact laws regulating abortion. Read the New York Times article for more information on the potential new regulations and Christine Ryan's blog to learn more about abortion law reform. Photo courtesy of: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters  ...
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Human Rights, Feminism, and Abortion Law Reform

Human Rights, Feminism, and Abortion Law Reform

In the seminal international human rights treaties there is no express legal guarantee for abortion rights. Nevertheless, since the 1990s, women’s rights activists have used international human rights forums and mechanisms to advance abortion rights. Cumulatively, human rights law can now be said to call for the decriminalization of abortion and the legalization of abortion in cases where the pregnancy threatens the life or health of the woman, is the result of rape or incest, or there is severe fetal impairment. Despite this promising trajectory, international human rights law does not recognize a woman’s right to decide whether to carry a pregnancy to term as a matter of her autonomy, equality or self-determination. One reason for this is advocates have attempted to follow the path of least resistance for abortion rights and focused instead on the right to health, the right to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and the right to privacy. Recognizing unsafe abortion as a major public...
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