A new video and report from the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) illustrate the devastating consequences of the criminal abortion ban in the Philippines, one of the only countries where abortion is illegal in all cases with no clear exceptions. Their report shows that the ban has not reduced the incidence of abortion, just made it unsafe and, in many cases, deadly.
A video from the CRR poignantly illustrates the lengths to which women will go to terminate their pregnancies. Tens of thousands of illegal procedures go awry, sending women into the hospital, where they are often abused by doctors and nurses:
The report is, if possible, even more chilling. The Filipino women who resort to abortion do so because of poverty, because of rape or incest, or simply out of a desire to control their own fertility, a fundamental human right. But the methods that are available to them are limited and dangerous.
These methods include, according to the report, “painful abdominal massages by traditional midwives, inserting a catheter into the uterus, medically unsupervised consumption of Cytotec (the local brand name for a drug containing misoprostol) to induce uterine contractions, and ingestion of herbs and other concoctions sold by street vendors.
“Common physical complications,” the report goes on, “caused by these methods include hemorrhage, sepsis, perforation of the uterus, damage to other internal organs, and death.”
Horrifying, right? And it’s a little easier to understand how, in 2008, 1,000 Filipino women died following complications from an abortion. To make matters worse, contraceptives and information about family planning are scarce, resulting in an estimated 1.9 million unplanned pregnancies per year (again, using statistics from 2008). These unplanned pregnancies lead women straight to the risky abortion methods that, in some cases, are deadly.
The CRR has a wealth of information about this issue on their site, and I encourage you to explore for yourself. It’s terrifying to realize that a human rights and public health crisis of this magnitude is moving forward unchecked. And if nothing else, this tragic example illustrates the need for safe, legal and accessible abortion worldwide.
Photo from Flickr.