Abortion Law and Policy News
6 July 2016

Dr Leonel Briozzo, Vice-Minister of Public Health, Uruguay

Using Uruguay's harm reduction approach to allow women with Zika infection to have legal abortions
Dr Leonel Briozzo, Vice Minister of Public Health, Uruguay, who introduced a harm reduction policy for reducing the risk of unsafe abortions before the country's abortion law was reformed, has suggested a similar policy in relation to Zika infection. With abortion, the policy was to invite women considering abortion to attend a counselling session at the main maternity hospital, where most women used to present for post-abortion treatment for complications...


WHO advice: Olympic Games, Zika infection, pregnancy and safer sex
The Lancet reports that on 20 May 2016, 150 physicians, bioethicists, and scientists from several countries (including Brazil) posted an open letter suggesting WHO exert pressure on Olympics authorities to delay or relocate the Rio de Janeiro Games in August because of public health concerns over the risk of Zika virus infection for tourists and athletes. The same concern was raised in 2013 about the risk of dengue infection for tourists and athletes intending to travel to Brazil during the 2014 World Cup. Afterwards, the reported number of dengue cases among tourists after the Games was only three. The mosquito that transmits Zika has a strong seasonal pattern, with highest abundance in summer in Rio (Jan–Feb) and lowest in winter (July–Aug). A study they report estimated that the risk of Zika virus infection is therefore more than 15 times less than that for dengue.

WHO says that there is no public health justification for postponing or cancelling the Games. WHO has also updated its advice to pregnant women and regarding safer sex...

Irish Parliament debates abortion bill

On 30 June 2016, the Irish Parliament debated a private member's bill by Independents4Change allowing abortion in cases of fatal fetal abnormality, if a qualified perinatologist and an obstetrician certified in good faith that the condition of the fetus was incompatible with life.
Minister for Health Simon Harris issued an apology to the woman who successfully brought a complaint against the State after she was forced to travel to the UK for a termination in 2011 for fetal abnormality. Earlier in June, in response to her complaint, the UN Human Rights Committee found that Ireland’s ban on abortion subjected her to discrimination and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and for putting her through financial and emotional sufferi
ng. However, the Minister said he could not support the bill because…

Embryos at 4-5 wks LMP (6mm) and 6 wks LMP (18 mm)
Olga Loeber, Reproductive Health Matters, 2010

Health Minister seeks to bring early medical abortion provision by GPs under the abortion law
The Netherlands has one of the lowest abortion rates in the world, at 8.5 per 1,000 women.
The Dutch Health Minister Edith Schippers wants to make medical abortion available from GPs, and plans to introduce legislation to allow that at the end of this year, because many women would like that and many get contraception from their GPs. The pills are currently only available in hospitals and abortion clinics. Another change she intends is that doctors will have to report all prescriptions to the Health Ministry Inspectorate, thus bringing early abortions under the Dutch abortion law.

This could be problematic, however, as while most early abortions are in fact registered anyway, the imposition of the five-day waiting period for "real abortions" would become obligatory too, which delays abortions without clinical justification... FULL STORY

President Koroma still won't sign the Act into law and calls for referendum
Sierra Leone has the world’s highest maternal mortality ratio, and many of these deaths are from unsafe, illegal abortions. To prevent abortion deaths, the country's Parliament passed the Safe Abortion Act 2015, not only once but twice, which allows abortion on request up to 12 weeks of pregnancy and up to 24 weeks in several health-related circumstances. According to the BBC, the President, whose party supported the new law, who asked not once but twice for further consultation, has recently asked for the issue to be put to a referendum...

Supreme Court of Justice rejects proposal to decriminalise some abortions 3-1
This case was the first in which the Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico discussed decriminalisation of abortion at the federal level. The case arose from an injunction filed by a woman who was denied an abortion on legal grounds in 2013. Presented by Justice Arturo Zaldívar, the case proposed that current sanctions on abortion, as prescribed by the federal Penal Code, violate the rights to personal development, sexual and reproductive health and freedom from discrimination...

Women's movement group Somos Muchas call for abortion law reform

In Honduras, according to the UN Population Division database on abortions laws (2002), the Penal Code makes no exceptions to the prohibition on the performance of abortions, but the Code of Medical Ethics allows abortions to be performed for therapeutic reasons. In practice, however, there are no legal abortions. The group Somos Muchas (We are Many) has called on the Honduran government, which is in the process of reforming the Penal Code, to allow abortion on three grounds: if the woman's health is at risk, if the fetus shows fatal malformation, or if pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. The group is part of the Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en Honduras (National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Honduras)... FULL STORY

Editor: Marge Berer

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