Publications, Reports and Videos, Zika, Iran, Burkina Faso, Argentina, ReproHealthLaw, Belgium, 16 Days

23 November 2016


Zika and microcephaly; Zika as a sexually transmitted infection; Zika as a human rights issue
Nearly nine months after Zika was declared a global health emergency, the virus has infected at least 650,000 people in Latin America and the Caribbean, including tens of thousands of pregnant women.
However, two different sorts of unexpected information have emerged from studies. In Brazil, a study in 16,208 neonates born between Jan 2012 and Dec 2015, in 21 maternity centres in Paraíba, the epicentre of the epidemic, found that 2% of the total (316) fulfilled all three accepted criteria for microcephaly and that the prevalence fluctuated over time. However, the numbers fulfilling any one of these criteria were much higher. These numbers are also much higher than the 6.4 per 10,000 live births reported in Paraíba by the Brazilian live birth information system. The results raise questions about the notification system, the appropriateness of the diagnostic criteria and future implications for the affected children and their families. More studies are needed to understand the epidemiology and the implications for the Brazilian health system.

Zika is continuing to spread across Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, and although most people are likely think about long sleeves, mosquito netting, and insect repellent, as well as the potential for
vaccines against the disease, all the evidence says we should also be treating Zika as a sexually transmitted infection, including the new guidelines on Zika recently released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Zika is unique in that it is transmitted through both sex and mosquitoes, which makes it hard to determine just how much of an effect sexual transmission is having on the spread of the disease. But as with HIV, it would be better to talk about prevention (especially condoms) rather than wait for a vaccine to be developed, even if the possibility of a vaccine exists...




Levels, trends and correlates of abortion in Tehran, Iran: 2009–2014

International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, by Amir Erfani, June 2016:93-101
Abstract en
español / français
Accurate, up-to-date information on abortion incidence is lacking for Iran, where abortion is illegal.
Data from 2,934 currently married women aged 15–49 who completed the 2009 Tehran Survey of Fertility (TSF) and 3,012 such women who completed the 2014 TSF were used to estimate levels of and trends in abortion and related measures. Analyses also examined characteristics of abortions, abortion recipients and providers, as well as trends in women's reasons for having an abortion.
Between 2009 and 2014, the proportion of married women who reported having ever had an abortion decreased from 8.3% to 5.6%. Declines also occurred in the general abortion rate (from 6.6 to 5.4 abortions per 1,000 women), the total abortion rate (from 0.18 to 0.17 abortions per married woman) and the annual number of abortions (from 10,656 to 8,734); however, the proportion of pregnancies that were terminated was stable (8.7–8.8%). The proportion of terminations obtained for non-medical reasons rose from 68% to 81%. In 2014, abortion rates were elevated among women who were more educated, wealthier, employed, urban migrants or not highly religious, and among those who had no more than one child. The most commonly used providers were midwives (40%) and obstetricians (32%). Half of abortions resulted from withdrawal failure, but only one-fourth of withdrawal users switched to a modern contraceptive method after an abortion...




Young women who fled forced marriage or early and unwanted pregnancies
in a women's shelter, Ouagadougou, July 2014 © Amnesty International

Costs of treatment of abortion complications in two public referral hospitals in Ouagadougou

BMC Health Services Research, by Patrick G C Ilboudo, Giulia Greco, Johanne Sundby, Gaute Torsvik, 2016;16:559   DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1822-7  
Treatment costs of induced abortion complications can consume a substantial amount of hospital resources and may affect hospitals' capacities to deliver other health care services. Yet few studies have been conducted to document the costs of treating abortion complications in Burkina Faso. This study estimated the costs of six abortion complications, including incomplete abortion, haemorrhage, shock, infection/sepsis, cervical or vaginal laceration, and uterine perforation in women treated in two public referral hospital facilities in Ouagadougou and the cost saving of providing safe abortion care services.
Abortion-related complications were assessed through a review of post-abortion care registers and interviews with key informants in maternity wards and hospital facilities. Two structured questionnaires were used, one to collect information on the units and the unit costs of drugs and medical supplies used in the treatment of each complication, and the other to gather information on salaries and overhead expenses.
Across the six types of complications, the mean cost per patient was US$45.86. The total cost to these two public referral hospital facilities was US$22,472.53 in 2010, equivalent to US$24,466.21 in 2015. Provision of safe abortion care services to women who suffered from complications of unsafe induced abortion and who received care in these public hospitals would only have cost US$2,694, with potential savings of US$19,778 in that year...




Some CEDAW Committee members: Vice-Chairperson
Dalia Leinarte, Theodora Oby Nwankwo, Hilary Gbedemah,
Vice-Chairperson Naéla Gabr

On 2 November was the 7th review of the CEDAW Committee of Argentina, in which the government had to outline its policies for guaranteeing the rights of women. The Committee stressed the need not to apply regressive policies and the difficulties of eliminating all forms of discrimination against women in the country. The final observations of the Committee will be published on 21 November.
Regarding abortion, the State recognised that clandestine abortions are the principal cause of maternal deaths in Argentina, but gave no information about concrete actions to prevent them, claiming they had no official data on how many abortions covered by the law are carried out, nor data on clandestine abortions. The CEDAW Committee invited them to legislate not to penalise any women who have had abortions.

The State also claimed that the effective implementation of the National Program on Sexual Health and Responsible Procreation was challenging, and did not respond when the Committee expressed concern at the decision of the province of Buenos Aires to maintain in force a restrictive protocol for legal terminations of pregnancy...




El aborto en el derecho transnacional: casos y controversias

by Rebecca J Cook, Joanna N Erdman, y Bernard M Dickens (editores)

México, FCE/CIDE, 2016
El debate jurídico y judicial sobre el aborto ha tenido, a lo largo del siglo XX y principios del XXI, importantes revoluciones en su abordaje teórico y práctico, que son expresión de estrategias de sectores sociales, religiosos y políticos que en ocasiones resultan contrapuestas.
Éste es un completo balance dinámico sobre las nuevas transiciones actuales y posibles y los desarrollos jurídicos más significativos a nivel transnacional en el tema del aborto, y da cuenta del nuevo desarrollo conceptual que concibe la idea de que no sólo la sanción penal, sino también la amenaza de la sanción penal, ponen en riesgo derechos fundamentales de las mujeres.
This is a translation of: Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014...



The evidence of a crime: 25 years of the right to abortion in Belgium

Video (40 min): (en français)
It's been 26 years since abortion was decriminalised in Belgium on medical grounds up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. It was an enormous breakthrough, allowing women the autonomy to decide their life course. But 26 years later, abortion remains in the penal code as a crime against family order and public morals. Because it continues to be a criminal offence, the stigma remains, affecting the approaches a woman needs to make to obtain an abortion, tending towards blame, even before she has been able to make a choice. It's because of this that we continue to demand removal of abortion from the penal code.


Libres, ensemble: Enquête de sens
(Free, together: a study of meaning)
Centre d'action laïque, Belgium
Video (30 min) at: (en français)



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