Saturday, January 28

The new tale of the maid: abortion, in the sights of governments around the world

  • Europe Poland enacts a near-total ban on abortion

Natalya couldn’t afford another child to feed. I was 19 weeks old when I decided to have an abortion in Poland, a country that only allows it after rape or incest or when the mother’s life is in danger. So Natalya (not her real name), “terrified that she would be forced to carry her pregnancy to term” contacted Abortion Without Borders. The organization helped her travel by car, with her partner, to Spain (the doctors had forbidden her to fly because it was a risky pregnancy). They paid for the trip and the NGO took care of the costs of the procedure, about 2,000 euros. Two days later she was back home, safe and sound.

The same did not happen to his compatriot Izabela, who last November became a symbol of the protests against abortion in Poland. Izabela, 30, She died of septic shock shortly after the 22-week-old fetus in her womb died. According to her family, the doctors decided to wait for the embryo to stop beating to perform a curettage for Izabela. “The child weighs 485 grams. Thanks to the abortion law, I have to stay in bed. There is nothing they can do. They will wait until I die.” It was one of Izabela’s last messages to her mother.

Poland is not an easy country for women. In January 2021, the ruling of the Constitutional Court, of October 2020, which prohibits abortion in cases of severe fetal malformation, came into force. At a glance, you can see the impact that this ruling had on the number of women who asked for help to end their pregnancies. In 2019, Abortion Without Borders, the aforementioned NGO, helped 5,237 women abort. From October 2020 (date of the controversial sentence) to October 2021, he did the same with 34,000 women.

Meanwhile, other laws are still being debated in Parliament that not only put more obstacles to abortion, but also reduce women to their reproductive role. In January a digital registry of all pregnancies in the country. “It is reaching a completely different level of vigilance, another example of how authorities are allowed to control a woman’s body. This record reinforces the feeling that abortion is something to be ashamed of and pregnancy a special state of mind. the woman; of what pregnant women are not responsible enough to make decisions themselves, “says activist Weronika Smigielska over the phone.

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But this registry is not the only initiative underway to control birth rates in a country with a strong Catholic tradition. In early December, a bill to create a Institute of family and demographics it was approved at first reading in Parliament. This new institution would aim to monitor family policy and educate citizens about the “vital role of the family in the social order” and the importance of reproduction in the context of marriage. “The director of this institution will have the powers of a prosecutor, In other words, you can freely join lawsuits that are being developed in the courts on, for example, divorces, or child custody or almost any legal case. It gives the impression that it would be a very powerful institution that would even assume responsibilities from other authorities, “warns Smigielska.

The law of the heartbeat and abortion as a crime

Poland is no exception in a world where more and more countries persecute or criminalize abortion. “There is a current against the sexual and reproductive rights of women as a reaction to the fact that more and more women are mobilizing, “says Lola Liceras, Amnesty International coordinator on the human rights of women in the world.

The case of Poland is striking because, recalls Liceras, it encourages anti-abortion groups in other countries to do exactly the same. For example, in Slovakia, in 2019, there was an attempt to pass a rule that obliged pregnant women (also if they were minors) to have an ultrasound scan, see it and listen to the heart of the fetus. “It was against the dignity of women,” Liceras denounces. That law was not finally approved but on the other side of the world, in Texas (United States), the beat law, which prohibits abortion from the sixth week, when most women do not even know they are pregnant. A rule that makes no exceptions for incest or rape and that it has the particularity of allowing any citizen to sue someone who aborts or is an “accomplice” in an interruption of pregnancy.

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In early December, the Supreme Court decided to leave this rule in effect, while it continues to study another similar law passed in Mississippi. For the first time in decades, the highest court in the United States must now rule on the constitutionality of abortion, legalized since the decision “Roe v. Wade” (1973), which allows it until the viability of the fetus outside the mother’s womb, in around 23-24 weeks gestation.

“You have to do a whole awareness policy, to explain to the citizen that although abortion is prohibited it will always continue to exist. The only thing that changes is that if it is regulated, is safe and is part of health, women and girls do not risk their lives, “claims Liceras, who recalls that in several Latin American countries the idea that the abortion is a crime.

“In El Salvador, women accused of having an abortion are penalized up to 30 years of crcel, It is an aggravated crime because it is considered that they have killed a child, “he continues, adding that in Latin America societies tend to be tolerant of sexual violence. In El Salvador, Honduras or Nicaragua there is a total ban on abortion,” even though suppose death for the mother “, a mother who is perhaps a girl raped by a relative or someone close to you, from your community.

In this terrible contradiction, education appears as something vital. And that is also known to the other side, the anti-abortion groups that promote norms that not only punish abortion, but also seek prohibit affective sexual education in schools. In Hungary, since last June it has been forbidden to talk about homosexuality in schools. Last month, the parliament approved holding a referendum (still undated) on different issues related to homosexuality, in which there will also be a question about whether the teaching of sexuality should be included in schools. Returning to Poland, a proposal to restrict sex education in schools is also being debated. That country’s Minister of Education, Przemyslaw Czarnek, has promised to “make schools more decent” and to convince girls that “having a career” before a child “is dangerous and it is not what they were called by God to do. “

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Irn: incentives for women who procreate

Far away, in Iran, the government of the ultraconservative Ibrahim Raisi a new law, called “Rejuvenation of the population and support to the family,” has just been carried out, from which an aggressive program of population growth is structured as a response -that is the argument- to a serious economic and social crisis in the country. This law imposes restrictions on abortion, but also to contraception and voluntary sterilization. In addition, it gives greater powers to the police to monitor women who access any of these services.

“Iran, long a success story when it comes to family planning, has been gradually limiting access to contraceptives. On each occasion that conservatives have had the most, they have tried to pass laws that bring back the woman to patriarchal roles“says Tara Sepehri Far, a researcher for the Middle East and North Africa Division for the Human Rights Watch organization.

Sepheri Far is very critical of this new norm that also “provides various financial incentives for women who have children“and that emphasizes a vision of women” whose main role is to procreate. “The norm reaches different spheres of society and, in fact,” obliges the Ministry of Education to create didactic material that promotes, from the schools, the birth rate. . At the university level, it is emphasized that Research focusing on the negative effects of contraceptives and abortion will be supported“.

In the Republic of Gilead women are divided into two groups. Most of them are considered objects, their only value is in their womb: they are receptacles with the mission of increasing the births desired by the authorities. Any resemblance between that Atwood novel and reality (not) is purely coincidental.

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