Kenyan court case challenges government stance on abortion

Kenyan court case challenges government stance on abortion

After a three-day hearing, Kenya's high court adjourned a case on safe abortion until September 18, with a verdict expected by the end of the year. The case will decide if the government is responsible for the death of a teenager from complications of a botched backstreet abortion, and could increase access to safe abortion for women throughout the nation. The Kenyan ministry of health withdrew guidelines on safe abortion in 2010, and has since banned health workers from receiving training on abortion. FIDA Kenya and the Center for Reproductive Rights are challenging the ministry's decision, saying that it is a violation of women's rights. The government's removal of guidelines and training on safe abortion, they argue, has led to an increase in illegal and often unqualified practitioners taking advantage of desperate women, who face serious risk of complication or even death. The girl at the center of the case, known by her initials JMM, died last month after a botched backstreet...
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Self-Induced Abortion in Times of Crisis, Part 3

Self-Induced Abortion in Times of Crisis, Part 3

Passersby could hardly miss the bright pink stucco building near downtown Jackson, Mississippi in the southern United States. But the unusual color is not all that makes the building unique. The Pink House, as it’s called, is home to the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only remaining abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi. With some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the nation, Mississippi is one of 29 states classified as “extremely hostile” to abortion by leading SRHR research organization the Guttmacher Institute. Women currently cannot obtain an abortion after 15 weeks of gestation, the most restrictive ban in the nation. State governor Phil Bryant has repeatedly pledged to make Mississippi “the safest place in American for the unborn child,” joining other lawmakers in a crusade against reproductive freedom.   Yet this ostensible commitment to safety is less a compassion toward Mississippi’s children than a powerful political tool. Despite their professed desire to protect women and children, Governor Bryant and Mississippi state legislators...
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Self-Induced Abortion in Times of Crisis, Part Two

Self-Induced Abortion in Times of Crisis, Part Two

Content warning: sexual violence Despite rampant criminalization of abortion around the world, the international community tends to agree on one thing: an exception in cases of rape or incest. Even in the United States, where abortion is a hotly debated political issue, a majority of Americans support legalized abortion in cases where the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest. Most people agree that women should not have to be doubly traumatized by being forced to carry a pregnancy conceived through violence. Yet in Myanmar and Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees have little choice but to do just that. Since August 2017, a military campaign of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar’s Rakhine State has forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to flee their homes, causing the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world. As one of many ethnic minorities in Myanmar, the Rohingya numbered nearly one million in early 2017. But the government of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country, refuses to recognize...
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No remaining abortion providers in Guam

No remaining abortion providers in Guam

The Guam Women's Clinic is no longer performing abortions, seemingly leaving the small island without any abortion providers. Though the clinic is still operational, Dr. Jeffrey Gabel, unlike his retired predecessor Dr. William Freeman, does not perform abortions. Jamie Ward of The Guam Daily Post contacted several clinics searching for an abortion provider to no avail, and one of her contacts within the Guam women's health community confirmed that there is nobody on the island that women can be referred to for an abortion. Abortion access in Guam could be further restricted by a proposed bill that would permit abortions only up to 20 weeks, unless the life of the pregnant person was at risk. Guam's current law allows for abortions up to 26 weeks if the fetus has a serious physical or mental defect or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. Abortions are allowed throughout at pregnancy if the pregnant person's life or health is seriously...
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Walgreens pharmacist denies woman medication to end unviable pregnancy

Walgreens pharmacist denies woman medication to end unviable pregnancy

Arizona resident and first grade teacher Nicole Arteaga took to Facebook after a Walgreens pharmacist refused to fill her prescription for misoprostol, a medication that can be used to end a failed pregnancy. Nine weeks into her pregnancy, Arteaga learned that there was no fetal heartbeat--her pregnancy would end in miscarriage. Rather than undergo a surgical procedure to remove the fetal tissue from her uterus, Arteaga opted to take misoprostol, which can end a pregnancy up to 10 weeks in what is known as a medical abortion. Her doctor wrote a prescription, but when Arteaga went to pick the medication up, the pharmacist refused to give her the misoprostol, citing his ethical beliefs. "I stood at the mercy of this pharmacist explaining my situation in front of my 7-year-old, and five customers standing behind only to be denied because of his ethical beliefs," Arteaga wrote in her post, which has since been shared over 60,000 times. "I left Walgreens in tears, ashamed...
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Brazilian protestors demand abortion be decriminalized

Brazilian protestors demand abortion be decriminalized

Hundreds marched in São Paulo last week protesting the criminalization of abortion and demanding that authorities take steps toward change. Abortion is currently a crime in Brazil, except when the pregnant person's life is in danger, in cases of rape, and when the fetus has anencephaly, a congenital brain disorder. Yet as many as one in five women in Brazil are estimated to have had an abortion, risking up to three years in prison if they are caught. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Brazilian women risk their health and lives to end their pregnancies. Protestors emphasized the grave consequences of the country's restrictive laws. "The rich have abortions, the poor die," one protestor's sign read. Brazil's Supreme Court will hold a public hearing in August to discuss the decriminalization of abortion within the first trimester.   - Anna Katz, Communications Intern...
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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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