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Access To Contraception, Abortion ‘Critical’ To Women’s Health

“Sometimes it does seem there’s a war over women’s bodies, and nowhere does this seem more dangerous than in the large number of regions where abortion is illegal, unsafe and life-threatening,” Luisita Lopez Torregrosa, a columnist for the International Herald Tribune, writes in the newspaper’s “Rendezvous” blog. “Much of Latin America, Africa and Asia — approximately 25 percent of the world’s population — have highly restrictive abortion laws. Few countries across the swath of southern continents, from Africa to Southeast Asia, have enacted abortion-rights laws and measures to protect women’s reproductive health,” she states, noting, “In deeply Roman Catholic and patriarchal Latin America, where anti-abortion church dogma and macho traditions predominate, abortion on demand is allowed nationally only in Cuba, Guyana, Puerto Rico and Uruguay (and in Mexico City, but not in the rest of Mexico).”

“Yet the region has the highest estimated rates of abortions in the world, according to the Guttmacher Institute,” Lopez Torregrosa continues, writing, ‘In most of those countries women seeking abortions go to midwives and other practitioners who use unsafe techniques, and some women perform abortions on themselves with drugs and other abortion-inducing methods.” She highlights the story of Beatriz, a woman from El Salvador who sought an abortion to terminate a high-risk pregnancy and was denied under the country’s laws, though “at the last minute a compromise was reached for a caesarean section to end the pregnancy.” She also quotes Erika Guevara, the director for Latin America and the Caribbean for the Global Fund for Women, and Pamela Barnes, president and chief executive of EngenderHealth (6/27).