Abortion and Human Rights: Health & Human Rights Special edition Vol.19, No.1, June 2017

18/06/2017 § Leave a comment

This is a special edition of the HHRJ Journal on one of the key topics of the Campaign – abortion law and policy and the value of human rights in seeking to improve policy and practice. Being one of the three guest editors for this edition has been an important part of my Campaign work for the past year. I hope you find the papers valuable. Marge

le of contents and all papers are at:

https://www.hhrjournal.org/#abortion

All the papers are open access.

I especially recommend the following papers:

DISCUSSION Abortion Law and Policy Around the World: In Search of Decriminalization   Marge Berer HTML | PDF

Theorizing Time in Abortion Law and Human Rights   Joanna N. Erdman HTML | PDF

Regulation of Conscientious Objection to Abortion: An International Comparative Multiple-Case Study
Wendy Chavkin, Laurel Swerdlow, and Jocelyn Fifield  HTML | PDF

Pregnancy and the 40-Year Prison Sentence: How “Abortion is Murder” Became Institutionalized in the Salvadoran Judicial System
Jocelyn Viterna and Jose Santos Guardado Bautista
HTML | PDF

Pregnancies and Fetal Anomalies Incompatible with Life in Chile: Arguments and Experiences in Advocating for Legal Reform
Lidia Casas and Lieta Vivaldi
HTML | PDF

Legal Knowledge as a Tool for Social Change: La Mesa por la Vida y la Salud de las Mujeres as an Expert on Colombian Abortion Law
Ana Cristina González Vélez and Isabel Cristina Jaramillo
HTML | PDF

Macro- and Micro-Political Vernaculizations of Rights: Human Rights and Abortion Discourses in Northern Ireland
Claire Pierson and Fiona Bloomer
HTML | PDF

Decriminalization and Women’s Access to Abortion in Australia
Barbara Baird
HTML | PDF

Australia: Abortion and Human Rights
Ronli Sifris and Suzanne Belton
HTML | PDF

PERSPECTIVE Abortion Care in Nepal, 15 Years after Legalization: Gaps in Access, Equity, and Quality
Wan-Ju Wu, Sheela Maru, Kiran Regmi, and Indira Basnett
HTML | PDF

Journal and conference announcements bombarding my email addresses: what’s an author to do?

10/06/2017 § Leave a comment

When open access journals first came onto the scene, I was really worried about the various ways they would change the journal publication landscape and practice. More importantly than anything else, I felt it was unfair and inequitable to charge authors to have their papers published so that I, as a reader, could get access to them free. On the other hand, I have grown to like the idea a great deal, in that I began to feel entitled to access to articles and annoyed when I couldn’t get them. And there are some journals, I have no idea how many, that waive the open access fee for a certain number of global south authors so as not to exclude them from publishing. But I remain concerned that this will only be available to a few and that all the work that was done to open the door to publication to them will be undone as more seek a waiver.

To address the threat to equity of access for global south and individual authors, the compromise we negotiated with Elsevier for RHM when I was still the editor was a decent one – articles were behind a subscription paywall for one year, and then became open access. The journal paid for publication and for subscriptions for its global south readers, who were the great majority of readers, while authors did not have to pay. This meant both that authors who could not afford the open access fees would not be discriminated against nor would they lose the opportunity to publish, while readers too got access, including those who could not or would not pay the subscription, even if it took a year. But this was an unusual deal and as far as I know, it has not been much replicated.

What I did not expect, but what has taken place to an alarming extent, is that open access has become big business. Apparently bogus journals are seeking to fleece unsuspecting authors of their money by offering to publish their work. If what comes into my inbox and my spam box is any indication, such journals have been launched by the cartload. I am being bombarded on an almost daily basis with requests to publish with one journal or another by submitting a paper. Some of these emails are addressed to me personally and mention a paper I have published previously as the source of their knowledge of me. Others are generic. Still others invite me to review a paper or attend a conference or to serve on a committee for a conference, and some try to sell me scientific equipment of one kind or another. I presume my address is being shared widely to make this happen. Apart from titles that have something to do with women’s sexual and reproductive health, or more commonly obstetrics & gynaecology, the rest, while mostly in the health and medical field, are totally inappropriate for me, as their subject is one I know nothing about. What I find most shocking, however, is that some of them are written in absolutely appalling English. Who they think they are kidding, I don’t know.

In September 2016, I began to collect these emails in a folder, planning to write a blog about them as a scam. I never got around to it until now, so they have piled up since then. They are in my inbox at both my email addresses and in the junk mailbox of both my email addresses. There are hundreds of them. I decided to list them here to show how absurd this has become, or should I say appalling. Many have written more than once, and some, when I do not reply, write again and push me to respond.

Here are several examples:

  1. Dear Dr. Marge Berer,

How are you? I hope you are healthy and happy. The Merry Christmas Grand Celebration is very keen, for the rewarding start of this special event, I need one praiseworthy manuscript. I realize that best fit manuscript is your transcript only. Hence, I feel honored to invite you for your manuscript submission and I am confident that my expectations on your works will help me to rejoice this event.

 

I hope to cheer this occasion with your legendary article.  Await your reply.

Best Regards, B…G… Journal of Gynecology and Women’s Health (JGWH) 14/12/16

2. Distinguished Dr. Marge Berer,

I recently came across your work titled “The history and role of the criminal law in anti-FGM campaigns: Is the criminal law what is needed, at least in countries like Great Britain?”. As far as I understood, it has been written at the -. Following this, the editorial team of Omniscriptum Publishing Group reaches out to you with a free of charge publishing offer.  Briefly speaking, we invite you to publish this work as an independent printed book which will be listed by major libraries and online bookstores. Could you please let us know your thoughts regarding this opportunity? If you would like we can discuss the next steps. I would be happy to answer any questions. 3.

3. …It would be appreciated, if you submit on or before 26thMarch, 2017. If you submit, we will process and publish within 21 days followed by rapid peer review process…

4. Dear Colleague,

Happy International Women’s Day. It’s always been a pleasure and privilege to work with so many female researchers. On the occasion of Women’s Day, Clinical Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine (COGRM) is providing special concession on the publication fee until 24th March, 2017. Articles submitted before the mentioned date will be published (if accepted after peer-review process) with processing fee of USD 300 instead of USD 890. COGRM follows rapid peer review from the experts throughout the world, which helps us to publish an article within 7-10 days of submission.

***

Here is a list of all the supposed journals and conferences I have heard from so far (with the number of times an email has been received, e.g. x 4):

Reproductive Immunology x 4

SM Tropical Medicine Journal

SM Journal of Community Medicine

Annals of Community Medicine and Practice

GNWH Nursinghealthcare

Journal of Neonatal Biology

Austin Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology x 2

Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics x 2

Global Journal of Medical Research

NWH Nursinghealthcare

Trauma and Emergency Care

SM Group

Journal of Forensic Psychology

Global Women’s Health x 2

HSOA Journal of Reproductive Medicine, Gynaecology & Obstetrics

Pediatric Nursing

Dermatology 2017

General Practice 2016

Journal of Family Medicine

Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy

Andrology & Gynecology: Current Research

Sexual Medicine: Annals of Clinical Case Reports

2016 5th EEM International Conference on Hospitality, Leisure, Sport, Tourism & Education

Family Nursing 2017

Breast Cancer 2017

Journal of Gynecology & Neonatal Biology

Science can be Beautiful

Journal of Nursing & Women’s Healthcare

Protein Lab

Reproductive Immunology: Open Access x 3

Editorial@current-whr-journals

Hospital Management 2016

Proteo-Genix

Journal of Women’s Health, Issues and Care x 2

Journal of Community and Public Health Nursing x 2

Mental Health 2017 x 2

Nursing Education 2017

Apps Store Now India Development Company

Journal of Modern Physics

Pharmacy Express

Family Practice Special Issue

WordPress Magento

Mathews Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics x 2

Applied Psychology 2017

Call for Participation to the 2nd International Conference on Medicine and Natural Sciences, Albania

5th International Congress of Gynaecology and Obstetrics

Translational Reproductive Biology And Clinical Reproductive Endocrinology

Journal of Gynecology and Women’s Health

International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine

Journal of Environmental Protection x 2

Forensic Science and Criminology x 2

Journal of Pregnancy and Child Health x 3

Journal of Gynecology and Women’s Health x 5

EC Gynaecology Journal x 2

Journal of Sexual and Reproductive Medicine

Journal of Reproduction and Infertility

Functional Food Centre (repeatedly)

Health x 2

Special Issue: “Current Research on Safety and Environment”/ The selected papers will be submitted to the Elsevier: “Journal of Chemical Health and Safety” x 6

Journal of Pregnancy & Child Health x 2

Acta Psychopathologica x 2

Journal of Fertilization: In Vitro

Obstetrics & Gynecology International Journal x 3

Gynecology and Womens Health Research x 3

Midwifery Congress 2017 x 2

Pregnancy & Child Health

Journal of Traumatic Stress Disorders & Treatment x 3

Diana – ProteoGenix

Reproductive Medicine 2017 x 4

Public Health 2017

Internal Medicine Review

Gynecology and Obstetrics Research – Open Journal x 2

Trauma and Critical Care 2017

Open Access Journal of Urology & Nephrology (OAJUN)

25th World Congress on Controversies in Obstetrics, Gynecology & Infertility (COGI)

International Conference on Obesity and Diabetes

Reproductive System & Sexual Disorders International Journal

The 4th International Congress of Forensics & Police Tech Expo-2017

Journal of Women’s Healthcare and Wellness

Women’s Health & Gynecology

Women’s Health Bulletin

Primary Healthcare

Women’s Health – Open Journal

Global Biotechnology Congress 2017

Austin Public Health

JSM Sexual Medicine

EC Gynaecology x 3

Global Conference on Nursing and Healthcare

Annals of Clinical Case Reports

Scientia Ricerca

SOJ Gynecology, Obstetrics & Women’s Health

services@sciedunews.net

Thinkers Hub Conferences

Journal of Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility x 3

Surgical Nursing

Peer Reviewed Academia Sciences

Reproduction

The Scientific Pages of Anthropology

Nursing Conference

Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy

Journal of Drug Abuse

Pregnancy & Child Health Journal x 2

Forensic Science-2017 x 3

Sociology and Anthropology

World Nursing and Healthcare conference

Clinical Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine

Reproductive Immunology: Open Access

Innovate Nursing 2017

Journal of Women’s Health and Gynecology x 6

Journal of Community and Public Health Nursing

Plastic Surgery: Clinics in Surgery

Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research x 2

Drug Discovery & Therapy World Congress 2017

Nursing 2017

Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy

Juniper Online Journal of Public Health

Journal of Forensic Toxicology & Pharmacology

Sanaz – ProteoGenix

Protein Profiling

NEW Cyagen and Vectorbuilder Newsletter x 2

Reproductive Medicine_Com

HIV Scientific meeting

Agriculture & Food, 5th International Conference 2017 x 2

Reproductive System & Sexual Disorders International Journal x 4

Journal of General Practice

Breast Pathology 2017 x 2

Women’s Health (Sage) x 3

Journal of Nursing

World Conference on Science, Technology & Medicine x 2

Surgical Nursing 2017

Nurse Practitioner 2017

Stockholm Nursing Conference

Healthcare Asiapacific 2017

Open Access Journal of Urology & Nephrology x 2

Maternity Complications and Women’s Health Journal x 3

Archives of Medicine x 2

Journal of Family Medicine & Community Health x 2

Embryology 2017

Annals of Men’s Health and Wellness x 2

Journal of Women’s Health Care

Andrology and Gynecology Reports

Nutritionists

Andrology-Open Access

Pharma-2017 x 2

Dr. Sanchita Roy (editor09@sdjournals.net)

Dr. Sarmila Das (editor02@sdjournals.net)

AIDS Clinical Research & STDs

Journal of Forensic Psychology x 2

Annual Summit on Sexual & Reproductive Health, Oncology & Medicine x 2

Dr. Kateryna Bielka, M.D. kateryna.bielka@journals.ke-i.org x 2

Acta Psychopathologica

International Journal of Surgery Research and Practice

Journal of Psychology and Brain Studies

Social Sciences 2017

Pediatrics-2017

Forensic Research 2017

Family Medicine 2017 x 2

Journal of Psychiatry

Obesity Summit

Ms Aloka Jana (editor04@ikkppress.org)

Journal of Medical Implants and Surgery

Journal of Research and Development

Neonatal Nursing 2017

Journal of Forensic Research

International Conference on Women’s Health, Gynecology & Obstetrics x 2

Midwifery Congress

Journal of Basic and Clinical Reproductive Scienc

Women’s Health Research

Lipids 2017

Sexual and Reproductive Health 2017

Euro Primary Care 2017 x 2

Journal of Gynecology and Women’s Health

Generic-Biosimilars 2017

Austin Journal of Civil & Legal Sciences

Avid Science

Medical & Clinical Reviews

Euro Midwifery-2017 x 3

Journal of Surgery

Public Health Congress

Forensic Congress 2017

Journal of Endocrinology and Diabetes

Insights in Reproductive Medicine

Gynecology 2017

Journal of Sexual & Reproductive Medicine

Journal IJCAR

InTechOpen invites you to write a chapter for a new Open Access book project “Family Planning,” edited by Dr. Zouhair O. Amarin.

Journal of Basic and Clinical Reproductive Science

GB HealthWatch

Journal of Genital System & Disorders

Clinical Practice (Therapy)

Advances in Journalism and Communication

Journal of Family Medicine and Disease Prevention

Oral Presentations for Scientists

****

Whew!!! I have no idea what to do about this, but it feels like a permanent invasion of my territory and a form of e-trash being dumped on me. I have no idea who to complain to, nor how to stop them coming but will share this blog with the European Association of Science Editors to see if they have some advice or want to let others know this is happening.

Letter to the editor, Belfast Telegraph, 16 January 2017

16/01/2017 § Leave a comment

Dear Belfast Telegraph,

RE: Suicide risk to woman accused of using poison to have abortion, court hears, by Alan Erwin, 11/01/2017

I find it quaint that you describe the medical abortion pills mifepristone + misoprostol as “poison” in your articles about prosecutions of Northern Irish women, and now a couple, who have used them to induce an abortion. I’m curious to know how often and on what other subjects you adopt such an archaic and inaccurate 19th century term to describe something that is happening today in an entirely new and safe way.

In the 19th century, when the 1861 Offences against the Person Act was passed, covering a wide range of violent crimes, it included as a crime dangerous abortions for which actual poisonous substances were used in desperation, and did kill or injure women. For that time, and those substances, the term was accurate and made sense.

But now, more than 150 years later, we are talking about two medications developed by a bona fide pharmaceutical company, researched in depth over many years since the early 1980s by scientists working with the World Health Organization, who determined the safest and most effective doses and regimens for both medications, both when used together or with misoprostol alone. Placed on the WHO Essential Medicines list. Approved by almost all governments who allow legal abortions. And even being used in Scandinavia almost exclusively for all abortions.

And yet you are still clinging to the term “poison”? How backward-looking! Why? You’re missing the real story here!

Yours sincerely, Marge Berer

 

Note on yesterday’s blog called Happy new year…

06/01/2017 § Leave a comment

Two days ago, I published a blog that I have just deleted. The backstory involved turned out to be extremely complicated, far more complicated than I could have imagined, and having received an explanation for what happened, which was that one publication led to another that led to another and both were criticised, and then both amended their texts to try and correct problems with each of them, back and forth several times. I had only seen the two original pieces. Not unusual, probably, for newspaper and e-newsletter readers, but I wrote the blog based on the originals, and so created a problematic interpretation of my own and ended up throwing yet another flawed understanding into the pot.

I’ve decided not to try and explain the issues or comment further, so I have deleted the blog entirely. I hope those of you who read it will simply take it from me that I didn’t get it right either, and that I do not want anyone to be misled by what I said. In short, forget you ever read it. I can’t share the letter I received about the whole story, but it taught me a lot about being really careful when writing summaries of other people’s work, because they involve not just repetition of what someone else wrote but rewording of it and probably inevitably interpretation of it, and how that can go wrong when: a) a lot of people are involved, b) there isn’t necessarily evidence for everything that was said, and c) the subject is highly controversial. Whew!

If you didn’t read the blog, it’s just as well. Don’t ask!!

Trumped

13/11/2016 § Leave a comment

Trumped

It has taken several days of listening to and reading a lot of useless verbiage about Trump, but I finally found a blog by Adam Shatz that expresses what I think has actually happened, and says some of what needs to be said about it. All the hand-wringing seems so self-dramatising. I don’t understand why some of my non-American friends have felt compelled to write or phone to express their sympathies to me personally. As if nothing like this has ever happened in the United States before. As if I’m an innocent to whom ill has been done. The fact is, I’m not at all surprised, and I don’t understand why anyone else is surprised either.

Trump happened because Barack Obama happened. Obama happened because Bush II happened and before that, Bush II happened because of Bill Clinton. Back and forth, Republican-Democrat, conservative-liberal. Like a tennis match, they knock each other out every 4 or 8 years, game-set-match. This time, the right-wing won, it was their turn.

Watching the TV footage and videos of the ethnic diversity among the students and young people protesting the result in the streets these last few evenings, it seemed to me that the USA the Trump supporters want back is long gone, changed beyond all recognition. But then again, it isn’t. Remember apartheid South Africa, where many white people had “no idea” how the black population lived? Even this year the London Review of Books published a letter from a German woman still claiming they “didn’t know” about the death camps or the slave labour before the War.

All sorts of people make up the US polity; at some level, they coexist in the same space. But with every election, and in between when few people are politically active, the gulf between the different groups who make up the polity has been growing greater. This election has shown that breakdown is coming.

Trump led his supporters to believe he could turn the clock back. He’s a salesman, he sold them a bill of goods, and he did it using the techniques of an entertainer, a clown. The same way Nigel Farage sold Brexit, with a pint in his hand and an endless grin on his face, playing the louch joker. If they can’t use their good looks, like John Kennedy did, like Barack Obama did, then they need to use something else. Because winning in politics has needed a skilled media performance for decades. Everyone loves a clown, remember? Everyone was laughing at Trump until the end, remember? Ha ha ha.

But some of us said: if Brexit could happen, then Trump could happen. And I would add, the failure of the referendum in Colombia, to approve the peace deal there, was yet another example that fits this picture. All three events were based on a vote by “the people”, supposedly the bulwark of democracy. But all three were cases of the utter failure of democracy, two in referendums, one in yet another US national election in which the popular vote did not determine the winner.

With Brexit, people were told bald-faced lies, with impunity, by those who wanted to leave Europe. And on the remain side, no one came close to explaining the value of being part of Europe for the UK or the backwardness and damage of rejecting all the rights and advantages that being in Europe has given us, not to mention the high price of returning to political isolation — in a way that people from all walks of life could understand and relate to.

The terms of the peace deal between the Colombian government and FARC were extraordinary, based on a years-long negotiation that drew on experience from Northern Ireland, South Africa and many other efforts at conflict resolution. The fairness and inclusiveness of its terms make it the most amazing peace-making document of this century, worthy of Nelson Mandela. And yet a referendum voted it down.

Of course, this century, this year even, have seen many other disasters – and often I fear we are becoming immune.

But let’s get back to the seeming shock of being trumped. The United States is experiencing a new kind of civil war. From the perspective of working for abortion rights, for example, it’s as plain as the nose on your face. There’s an ideological war going on, it’s been in full swing for years. The ideology of hate took over Republican Party politics years ago. Remember the Tea Party? Watching the right-wing in Congress trying to stop the federal government from supporting the poor by paying for health care and contraception– as if it was some sort of nefarious plot – beggared belief. Yet people sit in front of their televisions watching these things happening on a daily basis.

The appalling abuse of legislative time – passing unconstitutional laws at state level and then wasting judicial time  having to challenge them. The blatant racism and misogyny. The steady stream of killings of young black men. The police allowed to get away with it. The jails overflowing. Carrying guns as common as carrying a sandwich, the daily murders, it’s a country long out of control. A traditionally adversarial political process that began to smoulder years ago and has now reached burning point.

Someone needs to call for a peace process, an impossible thought, but still. A return of civic education to schools. The rebuilding of an independent media whose remit is to inform, not stir up – to tell the truth, not sell inflammatory lies, stop pushing mindless entertainment and utter bullshit down people’s throats. A different kind of people getting involved in politics. Getting people talking about what to do. Both political parties need to be re-occupied by people who want to take care of the country and of all of the people, people who are willing to agree to disagree and reach consensus so as to make things better, instead of spending all their time destroying and stopping anything good from ever happening.

My adopted country also needs to look in the mirror. We are currently hurtling down the same road the USA has long been travelling. Adversarial politics not only between but within our parties. Backbiting. Unchallenged lies to the public. A failure of political accountability. A government that has turned its back on both inexcusable levels of poverty nationally and the consequences of the international crises we have caused and contributed to elsewhere. Growing right-wing penetration into public life, encouraged by the media – not just the right-wing media but also by the likes of David Dimbleby on mainstream TV. A right-wing Tory party that panders to moneyed power and demeans everyone who is vulnerable, and a relentless gutter press, who only the other day, openly and without shame, spat on the rule of law. This is the beginnings of fascism.

When the Klu Klux Klan can announce it will hold a public celebration of Trump’s victory, something they have not dared to do in my lifetime, no one can ignore how bad things are. He’s been elected, the Tory politicians are saying on the talk shows, it’s the USA, we have to work with him. They said that about Hitler too, in their day, and they are also saying it about Assad and every other corrupt dictator from whom they think they can squeeze some economic or geopolitical advantage.

Failures of democratic process are going on all around us, and we need to engage in finding a way to expose them for what they are and address them. My friends in the USA cannot just go out canvassing two weeks before an election and expect to be heard, let alone influence the country’s direction and its collective thinking. An ongoing, inclusive political process and leadership are sorely needed, and all of us are responsible.

A call for consensus and cooperation to resolve differing estimates of abortion-related deaths

29/08/2016 § Leave a comment

This article, in press, is about the difference between estimates of maternal deaths from unsafe abortion from the World Health Organization and those from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), USA, both published in 2014 in two different Lancet journals. The article, co-authored by Iqbal Shah, Carla AbouZahr and me, is in the International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics (IJGO). The article begins:

“The publication of two papers with widely differing estimates of abortion-related deaths has caused concern and confusion among individuals who work on mortality and morbidity related to unsafe abortion. Both papers claim to offer correct estimates based on robust and rigorous methodologies. We wish to highlight this issue and discuss how the differences might be overcome.”

If you subscribe to the IJGO you can find it here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijgo.2016.05.012

It has taken submissions to three journals, Lancet, WHO Bulletin and IJGO, over a period of 11 months, the first two unsuccessful, to have this published.

The likelihood that the IHME and WHO staff responsible for their respective estimates on deaths from unsafe abortion will sit down together to resolve their differences is anyone’s guess.

Meanwhile, we are all left not knowing whose figures to use. I took a personal decision, based on the arguments made in our article, to go with the IHME figures, as there is no other way of resolving this. I am using IHME’s estimate that 43,684 (14.9%) maternal deaths in 2013 can be attributed to unsafe abortion (Lancet 2014). I am also sharing the Guttmacher Institute’s estimate that there were 56.3 million abortions per year globally for the years 2010-2014 (Lancet, 11 May 2016), as few people seem to be aware of this new estimate either.

Based on my own (limited) knowledge of other people’s articles and presentations, and from what I’ve seen quoted in the mainstream media, the out-of-date WHO figures for 2008, published in 2011 — 46 million abortions with 47,000 abortion-related deaths annually — are still commonly being used. For those who are aware of the conflicting WHO and IHME estimates, few will have the expertise to choose between the two methodologies, but the sad part is, that shouldn’t be necessary.

At the end of the article we say: “As the leader in global health, WHO has a constitutional responsibility to support countries in strengthening their health-information systems. Likewise, IHME has a stature commensurate with its technical expertise and generous funding. Surely it is incumbent upon both organizations to put their differences aside and reach a consensus on the method required to produce one set of estimates that are comparable over time and that everyone accepts as the best possible information to guide clinical practice, policy and program priorities. Yet they remain unwilling to do so. In the absence of a neutral body with comparable responsibility, we believe that WHO should insist that its experts invite IHME experts, and others who might be considered neutral, to reach an agreement on the way forward.”

That pretty much sums up what we had to say from an advocacy point of view. The article goes into more detail, and also on the methodological issues too.

Lessons from the case in Spain

24/06/2016 § Leave a comment

Yesterday, I shared a feature article I wrote for the newsletter of the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion on this blog. I think there are a lot of lessons to draw from this case, but for me, at this moment, the two I would emphasise are the crucial importance of solidarity on all our parts with those whose human rights have been violated, and the need to consider far more deeply how to expose, counter and defeat the anti-abortion misogyny promoted by the (religious) right in all our countries as a form of violence and the collusion or absence of the state in allowing it to happen, and in a different form of solidarity, work more closely together to do so.

Here is a response to the events in Spain from Lucie van Crombrugge, former director of an abortion clinic in Gent, Belgium:  

Dear Anne-Marie, Marge,

Thank you so much for sharing  with us, partners in crime with Dr Morin, the history of the ordeal he and his team went through since 2004. Partners in crime, according to me, because myself and other providers referred to the late abortion clinics in Barcelona our desperate patients, their last resort for solving their unbearable situation.

Like you, Anne-Marie, I referred tens of women and I escorted some of them [to Spain] in the period between 2000 and 2008. All situations were handled with respect and professional care. While the rest of the European world turned its back on these rejected women, I witnessed the essence of what it means to be Pro Choice. Abortion, as late as necessary.

The Barcelona court should judge me as guilty as Dr Morin. The woman with her partner , the girl with her mother or father, the individual with only me…. Morin and his team depended on me, on us, to evaluate in-depth the circumstances of their life and the fairness of their request. Little time was left, once you landed in El Prat and entered the reception desk of the clinic… According to the Spanish law until 2010  the patient was medically and psychological screened  and prepared for treatment.

And no, late abortions procedures  aren’t easy to go through, not for the intimae who have to witness the harsh hours until check out, not for the care takers expected to alleviate the pain and sorrow, not for those doctors, the ultimate professionals. And the patients? No comment necessary.

The clinics of Dr Morin and his team offered us a safe harbour and professional skills for our patients. And anyone who thinks they have the right to refuse even one woman an abortion can’t continue to claim they are really  pro-choice.

What should the rest of us do now? Take notice of it and go on with our lives? I don’t think so…. Is it too much to ask from the abortion providers in Europe to take a stand on the outcome of this trial?

I so much hope action will be taken. And for those who feel uncomfortable with late abortion, they should realize that the Pro Life movement who sends  two Barcelona doctors to jail will continue their war against us and lump us all together as the devils on earth.

Hasta el final! Lucie