What would you do if you needed an abortion in a country where it’s outlawed?

I’m in Brazil right now with the wonderful International Reporting Project, and while here I spoke with a young woman who, like many women around the world, got pregnant when she didn’t want to be. Here in Brazil, abortion is generally illegal. After trying several different methods unsuccessfully and reaching out to a variety of slightly-shady people for help, she decided to go the safest route: To say she had been raped and get a safe, legal abortion in a Brazilian hospital. Her story is here. Women in this country are understandably very afraid to speak with anyone about abortion, and lots of women die or are injured from unsafe procedures. I’m particularly grateful to this young woman, who I’m calling Juliana, for her generosity, her honesty and her courage in sharing an extremely complicated story.

Author: has written 5275 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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11 Responses

  1. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 11, 2014 at 10:05 am |

    Thank you, Juliana, for sharing your story – and thank you Jill for giving her such a broad platform.

    1. PrettyAmiable
      PrettyAmiable April 11, 2014 at 1:14 pm |

      A more insightful question: what should the role be of international allies in helping broaden gender equality in countries with comparatively more restrictive practices? Some people (like Jill in this case) get to be on the ground and elevate the voices of women living under these laws, but that’s not a practical endeavor for most people who support folks in Juliana’s situation.

      Here (i.e. the US), when people do something homophobic or transphobic or racist or what-have-you, I feel like it’s my responsibility to check them in whatever way I feel safe doing so. I can vote against politicians with backwards practices, fund campaigns for progressive candidates, petition against unjust laws – but I have no idea how to support someone in another country with their political aims (with the exception of supporting with money when possible). I’d love to hear from activists in other countries (or activists who have experience campaigning internationally) what they would want to see from their broad allies.

      1. Aoife
        Aoife April 13, 2014 at 5:34 am |

        I’m Irish. Abortion is illegal in our country except to directly save the pregnant person’s life.

        I can’t speak for any other country where abortion is outlawed, but in Ireland a huge problem is the fact that while the pro-choice movement here is a grassroots movement, a huge amount of the funding for antichoicers comes from overseas.

        Specifically, from the US.

        Additionally, antichoice groups here aren’t transparent about where their money and support comes from. So a massive amount of the (incredibly well funded!) antichoice campaigning here is carried out by US-backed groups who do everything in their power to pretend otherwise while blatantly interfering in our society.

        I want our USian allies to tackle that. Expose these people. Shame them. Deal with them.

        1. PeggyLuWho
          PeggyLuWho April 13, 2014 at 2:06 pm |

          I would love to post a list of very bad people who are contributing to anti-choice groups in Ireland and other countries, but I don’t know how we could figure out who was contributing. There’s not a lot of transparency over here, either, and I think that contributions to international groups aren’t as regulated. Not that the domestic is much regulated. I believe you can donate as much as you want to your church, who can then turn around and use those donations to do anti-choice work.

          Just out of curiosity, is it possible for women to travel to Northern Ireland or England for an abortion?

          I always said that if Roe v Wade got overturned, I would probably still have access in California, and would gladly offer up my couch to any woman from another state who needed to come here to get an abortion. This is where the issue becomes about privilege. Abortion is never inaccessible to rich folks. If you live somewhere without access, you can just jump on a plane and get one somewhere else. Anti-choice laws only apply to the poor women. (probably a lot of these statements are “well, duh, thanks for stating the obvious, PeggyLu”)

        2. EG
          EG April 13, 2014 at 3:48 pm |

          Abortion is never inaccessible to rich folks. If you live somewhere without access, you can just jump on a plane and get one somewhere else.

          Unless you’re a minor, or in an abusive relationship, or something like that.

          Not arguing with your point, just fine-tuning it.

        3. PeggyLuWho
          PeggyLuWho April 13, 2014 at 4:27 pm |

          Oh, too true. Good point. Nice tuning.

  2. BroadBlogs
    BroadBlogs April 11, 2014 at 7:38 pm |

    It’s too bad that so many people are so obsessed with controlling women’s bodies. And then you get situations like this. Or women dying from back alley abortionists or performing the procedure on themselves. And then the crazy pro-lifers fight against contraception, which is the best guard against abortion.

    I have the hardest time understanding why controlling women’s bodies is so important to some people, despite all of the horrible things that occur as a result.

  3. Asia
    Asia April 12, 2014 at 11:49 am |

    Her story is beyond traumatizing. Children deserve to be wanted when born. It exemplifies the problem with prolife at both a governmental level and personal one. I have no respect for the boyfriend that said he can’t look at her the same way. He supported her when she got the abortion but then judges her for it. At no point did he state he thought they could raise a child. And her mother sees her child repeatedly ill from the abortion teas and does not ask questions. Her friends tell her she shouldn’t have gotten pregnant and don’t want to be inolve. Honestly, I don’t her support system would have supported her actually having a child out of wedlock.

    I do worry that by publicising her case religious leaders will attempt to repeal all forms of legal and rape victims will have a harder time being believed.

  4. Sunday feminist roundup (13th April 2014)

    […] What would you do if you needed an abortion in a country where it’s outlawed? […]

  5. bestlittlelion92
    bestlittlelion92 April 13, 2014 at 9:20 pm |

    I believe that in order to be a feminist we must work to empower all women from different places around the world and I thank you for featuring this story. I agree with the point made, that babies should be born being wanted, also making abortion illegal, just leads to women finding unsafe ways to take care of the situation.

  6. grace
    grace April 17, 2014 at 11:40 pm |

    If to say she had been raped and will then get safe legal abortion, then be it.

    I’m also from a country where abortion is illegal. This is because the country is widely populated by Catholics and what they don’t realize is that its worse to see children suffer for the rest of their lives.

    by the way drug store physician in our country can secretly prescribe capsules intended to abort fetuses.

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