Campaign Members' Activities
20 May 2016 


VIDEO: 10 Años de la implementación del aborto legal en Colombia
Constitutional Court judgement that changed the abortion law: celebrating the 10th anniversary
La Mesa por la Vida y la Salud de la Mujer writes: May 2016 is for us a month full of symbolism. It was ten years ago when the history of abortion in Colombia changed forever. The Constitutional Court recognized abortion as a fundamental right of all Colombian women on three grounds: when the pregnancy poses a risk to life or health of the woman, when there is severe fetal malformation and when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. Thanks to this ruling, abortion is for all Colombians a fundamental right.
The judgement was handed down on 10 May 2006. Exactly ten years later, women's organizations gathered in the main cities of Colombia to celebrate with music and art the recognition of women as autonomous subjects, capable of deciding on their own lives, their future, their reproduction, their bodies and motherhood. At 8pm in Bogotá, more than 300 women and men in the Hippies Park were chanting "It's a fact, abortion is a right" amid dancing and drums. Our voices were also heard in Bucaramanga, Barranquilla and Pereira, cities that experienced an unforgettable night for the rights of women.
Our celebrations recall that this was not an easy win. It has taken many years of constant activism and advocacy in the legal and political debate. Women, feminists and women's organizations championed this struggle, pushing and pressing for changes at different levels to consolidate the partial legalization of abortion and the full and timely access of women to legal abortion services. 
Photo: Gustavo Torrijos

This effort deserved to be immortalized in some way, and in the midst of the celebrations the gift of an allusive mural on the right to abortion was placed in the Chapinero neighborhood of Bogotá. its colours remind citizens that the decriminalization of abortion is part of a broader recognition of the rights of women, and that legal abortion is essential for strengthening democracy and justice in the country.
Through the newspaper El Espectador, La Mesa has published the book
Las causales de la ley y la causa de las mujeres (summary in English: Law exceptions and the cause of women), a document about the history of abortion law reform in Colombia and progress, barriers and challenges relating to abortion and democracy in the country. But our achievement is also the achievement of all women in the region and in the world.
We want to share our experience through three webinars:
  • Thursday, 19 May
Las causales de la ley y la causa de las mujeres la implementación del aborto legal en Colombia: Diez años profundizando la democracia
  • Friday, 20 May
Las causales de la ley y la causa de las mujeres la implementación del aborto legal en Colombia: Diez años profundizando la democracia (The health exception: A strategy for expanding access to abortion services and protecting the autonomy and freedom of women.)
  • Thursday, 26 May
Las causales de la ley y la causa de las mujeres la implementación del aborto legal en Colombia: Diez años profundizando la democracia (Towards the full legalization of abortion in Colombia and other challenges.)
On 10 May we celebrated the partial decriminalization of abortion. In a few years, we will be right here celebrating the full decriminalization. We will not stop working for our rights!

Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir – Colombia adds: Sí, celebramos que el Estado haya reconocido a las mujeres como sujetas autónomas capaces de decidir sobre su propia vida, su futuro, su reproducción, su cuerpo y sobre su maternidad.
Sí, festejamos que hemos avanzado… Sin embargo nos siguen doliendo y preocupando aquellas mujeres que aún no acceden a un aborto seguro. Es innegable que cuando las mujeres están decididas a interrumpir su embarazo, lo hacen sin importar si se trata de una práctica legal o no, poniendo muchas veces en riesgo su vida al someterse a procedimientos inseguros, insalubres e ilegales. Ante esta situación de riesgo son más vulnerables aquellas mujeres que no cuentan con suficientes recursos económicos para acceder a un procedimiento confiable y seguro.
Sí, es una realidad que las creencias religiosas siguen impregnadas en las acciones de funcionarios de la salud, interponiendo trabas médicas y administrativas para incumplir con la Sentencia y obstaculizar el Derecho a Decidir de las mujeres, incluso poniendo en riesgo su vida y su libertad, atentando además contra la laicidad del Estado, que sugiere la separación entre el Estado y la Iglesia.
Sí, somos conscientes de las barreras de acceso y de información que aún existen, pero celebramos que el aborto es un derecho constitucionalmente protegido y una opción que tienen las mujeres para decidir frente a su reproducción. Seguiremos trabajando por la defensa y garantía de los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos de las mujeres, que son reconocidos como Derechos Humanos, y por lo tanto, hacen parte del derecho constitucional en Colombia.
…Festejamos la capacidad de seguir trabajando juntas (os) y que se evidenció una vez más en esta apuesta colectiva por celebrar el reconocimiento al Derecho a Decidir de las Mujeres en Colombia.
Human Rights Watch adds: Currently, there is a bill in Colombia’s congress to fully decriminalize abortion in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, introduced by the country’s former Attorney General. Congresswoman Angelica Lozano intends to introduce a similar bill in the coming months, with slight modifications. Both would eliminate some of the institutional barriers that limit access because women and girls would no longer have to prove that their pregnancies meet the current legal exceptions, which will go a long way to ensuring abortion services can be accessed safely when needed.
Dispatches: Legal Abortion Still Out of Reach for Many in Colombia            
Tags: Colombia, abortion law reform, advocacy and political process

PSI image
Supporting expanded roles for abortion services by healthcare workers (SERAH): Collective action towards the new WHO guideline

This interactive session at Women Deliver highlighted the new WHO guideline, Health worker roles in providing safe abortion care and post-abortion contraception, and introduced SERAH, a working group taking collective action towards its dissemination and implementation. Panelists shared country case studies of task-sharing in abortion in Colombia, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, and Nepal. Audience members were engaged to share stories about efforts to expand provider roles in settings globally.
The SERAH working group currently includes representatives of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at WHO, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), Gynuity Health Projects, Ibis Reproductive Health, International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Ipas Global, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Marie Stopes International (MSI), Pathfinder International, and Population Services International (PSI). 

Tags: abortion services, expanding provider roles

Unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortion: a comparative analysis of four countries
On March 3rd, 2016, Médecins du Monde invited a variety of stakeholders to Paris to discuss the results of studies on unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions and their implications. French and African anthropologists, civil society representatives and policymakers, together with Médecins du Monde’s project implementers, engaged in debates, and shared findings and experiences. In particular, the need to better integrate and tackle youth needs was singled out. Improving the training of medical staff and strengthening quality in SRH services also appear essential, along with the imperative of dismantling restrictive legal frameworks hindering women and girls’ access to sexuality education, contraception and safe abortion.

The studies on the sociocultural and community determinants of unwanted pregnancies and abortions in Burkina Faso, Gaza, Peru and the Democratic Republic of Congo were conducted by Médecins du Monde in 2015. Specific dynamics can be observed depending on the context. It appears however that teenage girls and unmarried women are by far the most prone to have the course of their lives disrupted.

Women and men are still facing many obstacles to accessing quality sexual and reproductive health care services, contraception, safe abortion, or even reliable information. The studies found common barriers preventing the full exercise of sexual and reproductive health rights, ranging from structural obstacles in the provision of SRH services to restrictive legal provisions to exercising those rights. Unequal gender relations, cultural representations and religious beliefs in dealing with unwanted pregnancies have an impact that extends well outside of family and community settings. These studies show care providers further convey social and moral norms hampering the exercise of sexual and reproductive health rights.

EuroNGOs Newsletter, 1 April 2016. LINKS TO FULL STUDIES 
Tags: Burkina Faso, Gaza, Peru, Democratic Republic of Congo, unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion, barriers, restrictive law and policy, lack of access to services  

Ipas Bolivia country leader Malena Morales sits to the right of Bolivia’s
justice minister at an event announcing the training

In Bolivia, Ipas trains police and judicial workers on legal provisions for abortion 

Ipas Bolivia has launched a new initiative to increase women’s access to safe, legal abortion services in the public health system  ̶  an important step forward just two years after Bolivia’s highest court ruled to end a requirement for judicial authorization for women seeking legal abortions.
In partnership with Bolivia’s Ministry of Justice, Ipas will train law enforcement, judicial and policy professionals on the legal provisions for abortion and guidelines for handling cases in which women seek abortion care. Abortion is now legal in cases of rape, incest and risk to a woman’s health or life, but many professionals who could facilitate women’s access to this legal service still do not have training on the law and end up creating barriers for women. “Personnel in the police, judicial and health sectors are not informed about the 2014 court ruling which guarantees women the right to an abortion,” explains Ipas Bolivia country leader Malena Morales.
New guidelines for care of sexual violence victims
A major contribution to training these sectors will be the newly released “Guidelines for the Care of Victims of Sexual Violence,” since many women seek legal abortions to terminate pregnancies resulting from sexual violence. Morales officially presented the new guidelines, created by Ipas in collaboration with the Vice-Ministry for Equal Opportunities, at an event celebrating International Women’s Day last month.
The guidelines explain the legal obligations of institutions involved with sexual violence cases—specifically rape, statutory rape and incest—to guarantee victims’ right to sexual and reproductive health care, including the right to choose emergency contraception or safe, legal abortion. They support Bolivia’s national plan for prevention of adolescent pregnancy, which calls for a systematic response to all sexual violence. “Women who have experienced sexual violence and wish to obtain a legal abortion must file a police report, and this means they’re vulnerable to police staff as well as health staff misinforming them about their rights,” Morales says.
The guidelines also support the nation’s plan to prevent and eradicate gender-based violence and will be used to train psychologists, lawyers and social workers within the health system. Ipas also plans to train staff within the Ministry of Health, the legal and justice systems, the national police force, and the national program for victim assistance, as well as indigenous authorities and legal defenders of children and adolescents. Ipas has already been
training police on this topic for the last two years.
To ensure the public knows that safe abortion is now easier to access under certain circumstances, Ipas Bolivia has also produced national radio spots to raise awareness that there is now legal support for women who wish to exercise their right to a safe abortion.
Ipas, 26 April 2016
Tags: Bolivia, sexual violence, guidelines, training for law enforcement and judicial staff

Darryn’s Backyard Abortion Clinic: A Blog 

by Darryn Boodan
In these tough economic times, everyone needs extra cash. As I lack the skills to enter into the obvious money making ventures; selling doubles, planting cassava or starting a church, I have decided to do the next best thing and open a backyard abortion clinic.
Why a backyard abortion clinic? Well, as any good economist or drug dealer will tell you, the key to a profitable enterprise is all about supply and demand.
You see, abortion is illegal in Trinidad and Tobago, having been outlawed in the Offences against the Persons Act, enacted in 1861. 1861- those were the good old enlightened days in which electricity hadn’t been invented yet, people thought the moon was made of cheese, and women didn’t have the right to vote.
But making something illegal doesn’t affect demand, only its supply; driving up the price of that illegal something. And with demand for abortions set to increase now that it’s been proven there is a link between the Zika virus and birth defects such as microcephaly, it’s a great time to pick up a coat hanger and start cashing in.
The best part about starting a backyard abortion clinic is that it requires little start up capital or even basic knowledge about how to perform abortions. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes a backyard or an unsafe abortion as a “procedure for terminating a pregnancy that is performed by an individual lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that doesn’t conform to the minimal medical standards.” That perfectly describes my backyard and me. Plus, I have binge-watched 9 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy.
I’ve also done my market research. According to the reproductive research and policy think tank ‘The Guttmacher Institute’, 20 million women worldwide had a backyard abortion in 2008 alone, with 56% of those women being from developing countries like Trinidad and Tobago. In fact, 46% of abortions in the Caribbean are backyard abortions. And with a direct correlation between backyard abortions and restrictive abortion laws, I bet that the line outside my backyard will be longer than KFC’s.
My backyard abortion clinic will provide revenue for other areas of the economy. According to the WHO, thousands of women are injured each year while having backyard abortions. As most of these women are poor and can’t afford private health care, this is surely good news for ambulance drivers, and other emergency room staff in Government run hospitals looking for some overtime. And for those women who fear being further injured in Government hospitals, it’s even more good news for quacks like naturopaths, herbalists and obeah men.
Now I know what you might say. “Hey Darryn, this week obstetrician Dr Sherene Kalloo called for abortion to be made available for women with the Zika virus. Saying that even though she doesn’t approve of or perform abortions, women with Zika should have the right to make that decision. She also outlined the dangers these women face, like resorting to quack backyard abortionists like you. Her views might catch on, killing your business plans. You might need a miracle to open.”
My response to that is simple. Firstly, Dr Sherene Kalloo obviously belongs to that poor, deluded group of Trinbagonians who think they can shape public policy using crazy things like reason and evidence. I don’t know what country she thinks she’s living in, but it’s not here. Secondly, to paraphrase the charismatic terrorist from Die Hard, Hans Gruber, “You ask for miracles Theo? I give you the IRO – the Inter-Religious Organization of Trinidad and Tobago.”
You see the IRO is staunchly against abortion. Even in cases involving birth defects related to the Zika virus. According to IRO leader Brother Harrypersad Maharaj, pregnant women with the Zika virus should simply “have positive thoughts” that their infants won’t be born with a debilitating birth defect. Because we all know that works. He’s also pointed out that being born with severely reduced mental abilities has never stopped anyone in T&T from having a rewarding career as a politician, UWI lecturer or hit songwriter for Dwayne Bravo.
The IRO’s stance has been unchallenged by scared public officials. That’s because in T&T, it’s not expert medical professionals who guide public health policy, but rather people who believe in virgin births and talking snakes. That’s why I’m confident my business model is a sure thing.
So come on all you poor, desperate pregnant women, tragically in search of an abortion! Head to Darryn’s Backyard Abortion Clinic today. As my company slogan says, “Face it - what choice do you have?”
Reprinted with kind permission from:
Darryn Boodan's blog, 8 April 2016. First published in the Trinidad Express
Tags: Trinidad & Tobago, backyard abortions, satire
Editor: Marge Berer

Copyright © 2016 International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion, All rights reserved.