Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mexican Anti-Abortion Laws Endanger Women's Health And Legal Status

The Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization have issued studies stating that outlawing abortion doesn't make it less frequent; the ban just makes abortion less safe. Mexican states that are cracking down on the procedure, in response to Mexico City's legalization of abortion, have endangered women's health and subjected them to legal harrassment and suspicion–including women who have pregnancy complications:

The woman came into the hospital, bleeding, scared and barely out of her teens. But before anyone would treat her, the authorities had to be called.

Doctors believed that she had had an illegal abortion, so first, a man from the prosecutor’s office had to arrive and ask her about her sexual history. Then, after she was treated but still groggy from the anesthesia, another investigator showed up and took her statement.

The investigation is still open two months later. Prosecutors are seeking medical records to determine whether they will charge the young woman, who asked that her name not be used, as well as the person they suspect helped her.

Here in the state of Guanajuato, where Roman Catholic conservatives have controlled government for more than 15 years, it is standard procedure to investigate suspected cases of abortion. But Guanajuato is no anomaly, women’s rights advocates and some health officials say, since a broad move to enforce antiabortion laws has gained momentum in other parts of Mexico.

...The enforcement of the antiabortion law here in Guanajuato has created what critics call a climate in which any pregnancy that does not end with a healthy baby raises suspicions about the mother.

The fear of being investigated means that even some women who want to be pregnant but have complications or lose the baby “have to think twice about going to a hospital,” said Nadine Goodman, who runs a school for midwives in the Guanajuato town of San Miguel de Allende.

Dr. Luis Alberto Villanueva, adjunct director of maternal health for Mexico’s Health Ministry, said he was concerned that antiabortion enforcement could scare many women around the country away from seeking health care.

“The intentional search for ‘proof’ in women with bleeding in the first half of pregnancy diverts health workers from their task,” he said, “and drives women away from medical facilities, even at the risk of placing them in conditions of high risk to their health or their life.” He added that poor women, who rely most on public hospitals, were particularly vulnerable.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned in the U.S., will American women be subject to these adverse health and legal consequences?

No comments: