I feel like I’ve written this a million times, but the bodies keep piling up so I’ll say it again: “Pro-life” policies kill women. They killed Olga Reyes. And they’ll kill tens of thousands of women this year, just like they did the year before and the year before that.
MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Two weeks after Olga Reyes danced at her wedding, her bloated and disfigured body was laid to rest in an open coffin — the victim, her husband and some experts say, of Nicaragua’s new no-exceptions ban on abortion.
Reyes, a 22-year-old law student, suffered an ectopic pregnancy. The fetus develops outside the uterus, cannot survive and causes bleeding that endangers the mother. But doctors seemed afraid to treat her because of the anti-abortion law, said husband Agustin Perez. By the time they took action, it was too late.
Nicaragua last year became one of 35 countries that ban all abortions, even to save the life of the mother, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York. The ban has been strictly followed, leaving the country torn between a strong tradition of women’s rights and a growing religious conservatism. Abortion rights groups have stormed Congress in recent weeks demanding change, but President Daniel Ortega, a former leftist revolutionary and a Roman Catholic, has refused to oppose the church-supported ban.
Evangelical groups and the church say abortion is never needed now because medical advances solve the complications that might otherwise put a pregnant mother’s life at risk.
But at least three women have died because of the ban, and another 12 reported cases will be examined, said gynecologist and university researcher Eliette Valladares, who is working with the Pan American Health Organization to analyze deaths of pregnant women recorded by Nicaragua’s Health Ministry.
Sure, abortion is never medically necessary — except for the women who die when they can’t access it.
The Roman Catholic Church mobilized nearly 300,000 people to march and sign petitions in support of the ban.
“A child is not a sickness,” said Henry Romero, a priest who helped lead the campaign. “When two lives are in danger, you must try to save both the woman and the child. It’s difficult to say now that it isn’t possible to save both.”
A child isn’t a sickness, but a pregnancy can make you really fucking sick. It can complicate existing conditions. As Olga Reyes’ family now knows, it can kill you.
So no, it isn’t “difficult to say that it isn’t possible to save both.” It only gets difficult if you think that pregnancy is punishment, and women should have to die for their embryos. And women are dying, from ectopic pregnancies and from botched illegal abortions — and they aren’t being treated for those, either:
Some doctors privately admit to carrying out what they believe are illegal procedures, while others say they won’t jeopardize their careers.
“Many are thinking that instead of taking the risk, it is better to let a woman die,” said Dr. Leonel Arguello, president of the Nicaraguan Society of General Medicine.
Doctors frequently see women coming in with infections, many likely brought on by illegal abortions that they refuse to disclose for fear they might be punished, said Dr. Carla Cerrato. Because the people with some medical training who used to do illegal abortions have disappeared, Cerrato said, women more frequently take drugs or pull the fetus out on their own using wires or other crude objects.
“What we are seeing are complications that before we never saw,” Cerrato said, sitting in the dingy pre-labor room at a crowded public hospital in Managua.
She added that she sees hysterectomies and severe infections that leave women sterile or dead because obstetricians can’t take any action that might harm a living fetus.
“We have to wait until the fetus dies,” she said. “But often, for the woman, it’s too late.”
Thank your friendly neighborhood pro-lifer.
(Thanks to Mnemosyne in the comments for the link)
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