By: Courtney Mihocik
There are many ways to voluntarily end a pregnancy. Among them are low doses of poison, abuse of alcohol and drugs, self-inducing abortion pills, and doctor-performed abortions.
Women who seek out services for unsafe, clandestine abortions and misuse medicine like misoprostol, which is normally used for preventing and treating ulcers, are using these services because voluntarily ending a pregnancy is illegal where they live.
According to the World Health Organization, between 1990 and 2000, the maternal mortality ratio in Uruguay hovered in the 30s, only dropping slightly from 37 in 1990 to 36 in 1995 and then 31 in 2000.
Mujer Y Salud en Uruguay, or Women and Health in Uruguay in English, released a video, “Abortion in Uruguay: Feminist chronology of a fight.” In this video, MYSU reported that in the middle of the economic crisis of 2001, four women died in clandestine abortions and two were prosecuted for abortion in Montevideo and Pando. The video also reported that there were 33,000 clandestine abortions in 2003.
These same statistics are echoed in the United States. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America’s “The Safety of Legal Abortions and the Hazards of Illegal Abortion” report, before the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, an estimated 1.2 million women in America resorted to illegal abortions every year. Of those illegal abortions, 5,000 women died annually.
|The scene at a 2012 protest in Uruguay advocating for the legalization of abortion. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Érico Matos.|
According to MYSU researcher, Santiago Puyol, the law, otherwise known as interrupción voluntaria del embarazo, or Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy, allows termination of pregnancy with no particular reason in the first 12 weeks and the first 14 weeks in cases of sexual assault resulting in a pregnancy. There are no temporal limits in cases where the pregnancy poses health risks to the mother or the child will suffer extra uterine life malformations.
The Struggle Is Far From Over
Despite this progressive law, the political climate in Uruguay fostered an atmosphere calling for a referendum of the law and stigmas weigh heavily on women who are considering an abortion or have gotten one.
MYSU defended the law against anti-abortion conservatives and gynecologists who oppose the law through conscientious objection, or the refusal of performing abortion services for religious or moral and ethical reasons.
|Despite abortion's legality, some in the United States |
as well as Uruguay fight to repeal the laws that make it so.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia user John Stephen Dwyer.
The goal was not just to avoid the overturning of the law, but also to explain the importance of law 18.987 to push Uruguayan society toward progress.
Labandera believes the stigmas are in the verbiage of professionals.
"The stigma is present in the attitude and in the words that the professionals use to do the assessments," she said.
Progress Takes Time
“Even though the political climate isn't as favorable for progressive changes as it was during the previous presidential term and legislative period.”