According to the Guttmacher Institute, the number of unsafe abortions around the world are on the rise. Abortions are unsafe when performed by unskilled people and/or under unsanitary conditions. Here in the USA, I am sure we still have back alley abortions. But I think we consider them last resort or hope they are mostly a relic of the past, stories we hear about during abortion speak-outs. A few years ago, I was the emcee at a speak-out and heard Dr. Quentin Young talk about the days before Roe at Cook County Hospital. I'll never forget the look on his face as he described how many women came in bleeding, desperate for assistance.
But as you read this, I'm in a city, Mexico City, where abortion is legal. Just outside the city limits, "thirteen* of Mexico’s 31 states have ...amended their constitutions to protect the fetus from the moment of conception, which may set the stage for greater restrictions in these states’ abortion laws." "According to one analysis, the factors that made this reform possible were the presence of a liberal political party governing at the state level, favorable public opinion and pressure from nongovernmental women’s organizations that promote reproductive rights"[PDF citation] OK, so many I will touch on voting in pro-choice people.
Soon I'll be in Guatemala. There we find, as of 2003, 49% of unsafe abortions are performed by traditional providers. "In Guatemala, poor rural women are three times as likely as nonpoor urban women to have an abortion induced by a traditional birth attendant (60% vs. 18%), and they are far less likely than nonpoor urban women to obtain the services of a doctor (4% vs. 55%). " [PDF citation]
And in Honduras, abortion is prohibited altogether or has no explicit legal exception to save the life of a woman.
Don't fret, I'm not trying to make those of us in the USA feel bad for fighting for our lives. I'm just trying to bring an international perceptive to today's conversation. I will wrap this up by reminding us that the USA does impact women around the world. Our freedom is linked with theirs, theirs with ours. We can't truly celebrate victory in this country until our sisters around the world are also celebrating.
So get out there and register as many pro-choice folks as you can! And get them to the polls in November.
And to see what we're up to in Mexico, head over to the Nobel Women's Initiative's delegation blog. See you back here in February!