What happens when you are scared to go to the hospital?
This is the reality for thousands of women in Mexico where abortion is still outlawed in most states. Research from around the world has shown us that in places where abortion is illegal, it still happens, yet women are put at risk by underground procedures and the fear of persecution. This is the exact situation in Mexico.
A recent article in the New York Times highlighted this issue, discussing eight women who were jailed on homicide charges from supposed clandestine abortions. The process is shady at best, when evidence is difficult to find. Yolanda Martinez, one of the woman who was freed from jail after serving 7 years of her 25 year sentence stated; “They accuse you of crimes that you never committed.”
Women are afraid to go to hospitals whenever they are confronted with complications throughout their pregnancy because of these laws. It can be difficult to distinguish between miscarriage and complications from induced abortions, creating a culture of fear for women. From Guttmacher Institute:
Abortions in Mexico take place under unsafe conditions, resulting in serious health consequences for women. Seventeen percent of the Mexican women who obtained abortions in 2006 were treated in public hospitals for complications.
To make a bad situation worse, laws are being put in place to prevent even the idea of legalizing abortions. This is in response to the recent decision by Mexico City to legalize early abortions there.
Women’s safety should be our first priority–not driving them underground to unsafe procedures. We are not in a position where we can have women think twice before going to a hospital. We are not in a position to see more women die because they had no other option.
By Stephanie Rodriguez, Policy Intern