When spring arrives, bringing with it seasonal friskiness, contraception is rarely brought up. Women reassure themselves by thinking, “I’ve never got pregnant before‚ so nothing will happen this time.” This often proves to be a fatal mistake.
If necessary, an abortion can be obtained, here and now. However, one quarter of the world’s population lives under a total ban. Another third is forced to explain, make a statement, justify their choice, and provide the ‘right’ reasons, while no more than 40 per cent have completely legal access to an abortion, such as during the first trimester. A ten-year-old girl in Senegal is going through a dramatic situation at the moment.
I can get pregnant from unprotected sex? Really?
“I’ve never got pregnant from unprotected sex in the past, so it won’t happen in the future.” This seems to be a widespread belief. The US Guttmacher Institute has determined that the approximately 11 per cent of women who don’t use any kind of contraception account for more than half of all unwanted pregnancies. And when asked why they didn’t bother, some interesting answers were given: “I didn’t think that I could get pregnant so easily”, “I didn’t really think about it beforehand”, “I don’t like contraceptives”, “my partner’s against it and thinks contraception is evidence of cheating”.
Almost equally unreliable as no contraception at all is ‘being careful’ (coitus interruptus in medical terms). One third of all young women between the ages of 15 and 24 in the USA have relied on this method at least once. So it’s no surprise that 21% of them became pregnant, or they resorted to emergency contraception (the morning-after pill) more frequently. The term ‘pullout generation’ has already been coined in the USA.
Source: The Guardian Weekly, 8. November 2013
A 10 year old rape victim is being denied an abortion
In 68 countries, abortions are illegal or permitted only when the woman’s life is in danger. They include a number of former African colonies, from Angola to Uganda, and Senegal in Western Africa, which is half the size of Germany and has a population of 12 million. Though independent since 1960, its Napoleonic law banning abortion is still in force.
Aminata Touré, when she became the country’s prime minister in 2013, announced her intention to change the law, but this hasn’t happened yet. Before an abortion can be performed legally, three doctors must certify that the woman’s life is in danger. Which is virtually impossible in practice: “Poor people in Senegal are lucky if they see one doctor in their lifetime“, said the president of Senegal’s women lawyers’ association. They’re unable to afford it, as a medical certificate costs about 20 US dollars.
Recently, the British media have reported on the ten-year-old, who’s five months pregnant with twins after being raped by a neighbour. Because there’s no chance of her receiving a legal abortion, the women lawyers’ association is focussing on ensuring that she gets regular scans and free medical care.
In the first six months of last year alone, 40 women were arrested for illegal abortions or infanticide, and each one’s facing up to ten years imprisonment. A doctor or pharmacist found guilty of having a role in a termination faces being struck off.
A decade ago, Senegal ratified the African charter on the rights of women, but its provisions – the availability of legal medical abortions after rape or incest, or in case the women’s mental or physical health is endangered – have never been added to the statute book.
Source: The Guardian Weekly, 4 April 2014