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youthagainstabortionstigma

Abortion advocacy training in Zambia – Mwape

In March and June, 30 young volunteers at the Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia were trained on abortion advocacy. Here, one young person reflects on what she learned:

Abortion is one of the most sensitive topics society shuns to discuss, which from the word go is looked upon as evil. Having attended a workshop on safe abortion advocacy I have a different perspective of abortion.

I feel abortion should be a human right that every woman should be entitled to. It is a fact that unsafe abortions are happening in our society and many deaths result from unsafe abortions. As such, it is vital that we the youths take up the leading role and bring unsafe abortions to an end.

The Zambian law may be restrictive in some areas but the provision of safe services depends on the attitude and willingness of the health care providers and willingness of clients to come through. Reducing the need for abortion, be it unsafe or safe abortion, can be achieved by focusing on; changing the circumstances of women that make them vulnerable to unwanted/unplanned pregnancies; increasing women and men’s knowledge, access to and use of contraception; sexuality education for all, and addressing the poor economic prospects of women.

Mwape Kaunda, young peer educator in Kitwe

 

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How I became an abortion rights advocate

By Aedín O’Cuill, medical student and intern at IPPF and the UK Family Planning Association

When I was 16, my biology teacher was taking the class through a session on reproduction. After a discussion about contraception, she looked up at the class and asked tentatively, “Does anyone here agree with abortion? Sometimes people have different views.” Although the question could certainly have been phrased better, I now look back at this as an act of incredible bravery. You just don’t talk about abortion in Ireland. It felt uncomfortable, shocking even. My teacher exposed herself to a lot of potential hostility in what I’m now sure was an attempt to break the silence and stigma surrounding the topic.

At the time, I shook my head vehemently, and no one spoke up in defence of abortion. “Of course it’s wrong”, I thought. “It’s a life.” At 16 I had never thought about the reasons why someone might have an abortion, and didn’t know that some of my nearest and dearest would have abortions in the coming years. When I thought of abortion, I thought only of the fetus, never the pregnant person. That’s the way the discourse around abortion had always been shaped in Ireland, and for the most part, still is.

Seven years later and I am a loud-and-proud abortion rights activist. I am working as an intern with IPPF and the UK Family Planning Association on projects tackling abortion stigma in the UK and internationally. I volunteer for an organisation called Abortion Support Network which provides practical information and financial assistance to women in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man who have to travel to Britain to access safe abortion services. I am a medical student and aspiring future abortion provider. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what has happened in the intervening years to inspire such a huge change.

When I was 16, I didn’t know that approximately 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime. I didn’t know that restricting access to legal abortion does not reduce the number of abortions, but increases the number of unsafe abortions, which can lead to morbidity and death. I didn’t know that the women who have abortions are often the same women we see on the labour ward. I didn’t know that there was a strong moral argument to be made in favour of safeguarding women’s right to safe abortion. At 23, I know all of these things and more.

Having the choice about your pregnancy removed from you can have devastating consequences for women, their lives and their families. Abortion Support Network has heard from clients in incredibly difficult circumstances who have resorted to heart-breaking actions before learning that we could provide them with financial help. Abortion has always and will always exist; it is pregnant women who are best placed to make decisions about their pregnancies according to their own values and circumstances. They will continue to make these decisions regardless of what barriers the state or society puts in their way, and we must protect their right to make these decisions and endeavour to make abortion safe and accessible.

These days I am still ‘pro-life’- I am pro women’s lives.

Photo credit: Sam Boal

 

Discussing abortion at the Youth Action Movement minicamp in Ghana

By Enoch Weguri Kabange, Youth Action Movement (YAM) volunteer at the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana

Created in 2005, the Youth Action Movement (YAM) is IPPF Africa Region’s participation network of young volunteers.

Every year, the YAM in Ghana brings its members together from the various branches across the country to do what they love to do best – champion sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). A ‘minicamp’ is held to give young volunteers the opportunity to build healthy relationships with other YAM members from all over the country.

The 2017 edition like previous years was held at Cape Coast, Central region. The community where the outreach was held is a fishing community called Ampanyin. It was reported that teenage pregnancies were rampant in the community which comes with potential abortions, mostly unsafe and the associated stigmatization.

As of 1985, Ghanaian law permits abortion in certain cases but it was realized that only a very small number of women had knowledge of comprehensive abortion care and how to access it. This results in about 45% of abortions being unsafe which is alarming. YAM under the auspices of Planned Parenthood association of Ghana (PPAG) aims to drastically reduce this number.

Showing reproductive system

Due to the particular need for information, the outreach at the camp was centered on education though various services were rendered too. The participating YAM members didn’t want anybody left out of the education so they moved house to house and shop to shop doing one on one and small group discussions. In all the YAM members reached out to 260 people with 88 being male and 172 female. Some of the areas covered were teenage pregnancy, contraception, sexually transmitted infections and most especially comprehensive abortion care. This included education on the need for safe access to abortion and the myths surrounding abortion. It has been realized that myths are the leading cause of stigmatization therefore the dire need to make issues clear.

 

 

Abortion messaging workshop in London

By Milly, a young volunteer at FPA in the UK

Abortion is a taboo subject across the world, even in places we view as the most progressive and forward-thinking. Last month, IPPF brought together people from the UK and internationally, working or volunteering in different human rights and sexual health organisations to learn more about abortion stigma, how to tackle it, and why it’s important that it stops.

What was initially very shocking, but sadly not surprising, was that no matter where in the world we were from it seemed that even the schools with better sex education failed to properly inform their students about abortion. For those of us from the UK there was an overwhelming consensus that our knowledge on abortion was primarily taught through ethics debates in religious education, often bringing with it myths and a total lack of facts and statistics.

Of the many activities we took part in, the most interesting made us face our internalised biases towards those seeking abortion by ranking the validity of reasons for someone to obtain an abortion. Whilst the more ‘extreme’ circumstances were generally ranked at the top, all of us agreed that the most important reason for someone asking for an abortion is that they had made that choice, and insightful discussions ensued about why the extreme circumstances were deemed the most compelling.

Participants agreed to take action after the workshop!

Despite one in three women in the UK having had an abortion, we still have a long way to go in how we talk about it, particularly in the media. By avoiding the word entirely or using pictures of pregnant women weeks from giving birth in articles, the media creates subtle  biases and stereotypes which are damaging to those who choose to terminate a pregnancy. As organisations and individuals we have to make sure that those around us and the general public are getting the information they need to make informed decisions about their bodies. 

Unsafe abortion in Benin/ L’avortement à risque au Bénin

by Hélène Hlungbo, IPPF Youth Champion and President of Youth Action Movement in Benin//Par Hélène Hlungbo, ‘Youth Champion’ de l’IPPF et présidente du mouvement d’action jeunesse au Bénin

International conventions on human rights, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child[1], support the rights of young people to information, education and good health. In Benin, one out of every five deaths occurs in adolescents according to the Benin Demographic and Health Survey (EDSB IV, 2011-2012). The 2003 Act on Reproductive Health is fairly restrictive and authorizes abortion only in three situations: when the woman’s life/health is threatened, when there is malformation of the fetus and in cases of rape or incest.[2] This restrictive law means that many adolescent girls terminate unwanted pregnancies in secret, in places which are unhygienic and often not even recognized by the Beninese state as proper clinics. In most cases, there are complications or even deaths of adolescent girls as a result of these unsafe abortions.

Moreover, a survey carried out in Benin by the students of the University of Abomey Calavi (UAC) in 2015 reveals that the majority of patients referred to both the University Clinic of Obstetric Gynaecology and the Hospital and University Center of the Mother And Children are aged between 15 and 24, according to the various statistics collected in these hospitals. Also, registered abortions, especially those within this age group, exceed 50%.

Furthermore, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or disability. From this definition it can be noted that young people have the right to make informed choices and make decisions about sexuality. Although the law exists, it is very restrictive, its implementation limited and far from being a reality for want of political will. Many ‘unofficial clinics’ are providing care to the population at a very high cost. Medical ethics are trampled underfoot in the pursuit of profits, which has the direct consequence of unsafe abortions that are detrimental to the health of adolescents and young people.

[1] http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx

[2] https://www.reproductiverights.org/world-abortion-laws/benins-abortion-provisions

Les Conventions internationales sur les droits humains telles que la Convention sur les droits de l’enfant soutiennent les droits des jeunes à l’information, à l’éducation et à une bonne santé.[1] Au Bénin 1 décès sur 5 est le fait d’une adolescente selon l’Enquête Démographique et de Santé du Bénin (EDSB IV, 2011-2012).[2] La loi de mars 2003 relative à la Santé de la Reproduction est assez restrictive et n’autorise l’avortement que dans trois (03) situations: lorsque la santé de la femme est menacée, lorsqu’il y a malformation du fœtus et en cas de viol ou d’inceste.[3] Cette restriction de la loi fait que de nombreuses adolescentes terminent des grossesses non désirées de façon clandestine dans des cabinets de soins peu adaptés et parfois même non reconnus par l’état béninois et dans des conditions peu recommandables. Dans la plupart des cas, on note des complications ou des décès dans le rang des adolescentes suite aux avortements à risques (non sécurisés).

Par ailleurs, une enquête réalisée au Bénin par les étudiants de l’Université d’Abomey Calavi (UAC) en 2015 révèle que la majorité des patientes référées aussi bien à la Clinique Universitaire de Gynécologie Obstétrique qu’au Centre Hospitalier et Universitaire de la Mère et de l’Enfant (CHU/MEL) ont un âge compris entre 15 et 24 ans, selon les diverses statistiques recueillies dans ces centres hospitaliers. Aussi, des avortements enregistrés, notamment ceux se situant entre cette tranche d’âge, excèdent les 50%.

En outre, selon l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS), la santé est un état de bien-être physique, mental et social complet, et pas seulement l’absence de maladie ou d’incapacité. De cette définition, on peut ainsi retenir que les jeunes ont le droit d’opérer des choix éclairés et de prendre des décisions en matière de sexualité. Bien que la loi existe, elle est très restrictive, sa mise en application limitée et loin d’être une réalité faute de volonté politique. De nombreuses cliniques ne répondant pas aux normes sont opérationnelles et dispensent des soins aux populations à un coût très élevé. La déontologie médicale est foulée au pied au détriment de profits induits ce qui a pour conséquence directe ces avortements à risques préjudiciables à la santé des adolescentes et des jeunes.

[1] http://www.ohchr.org/FR/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx

[2] http://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/SR206/SR206.pdf

[3] https://www.reproductiverights.org/world-abortion-laws/benins-abortion-provisions

Safe abortion must be one of my rights // L’avortement securise doit faire parti de mes droits

Interview by Sawdate Sawadogo, Youth Champion and Chairperson of the ABBEF Youth Action Movement in Burkina Faso

(En français ci-dessous)

Abortion stigma is a critical issue these days and a sensitive issue for so many girls. Abortion is often not something that is expected…however, the stigma is so strong that some girls are often forced to turn away from their dreams. Malia, a college student in Burkina Faso, faced this stigma:

“Even if social pressure weighs on you, take responsibility for a better tomorrow”

“My name is Malia. I am 16 years old. My dream is to be a lawyer. A few months ago, I had an unwanted pregnancy. As I did not know how the clinic nurse was going to react, so I went for a secret abortion. The next day I did not feel well, but I forced myself to go to school for fear that my parents would notice I was unwell. Arriving in class, I felt very sick, I was weak and I was losing blood. The headmaster took me home but my parents were away. So he took me to the hospital. Along the way, he asked me why I was losing so much blood. I told him I had my period. When we arrived at the hospital, I fell on the terrace. After the diagnosis, the doctor approached the headmaster to inform him that I had undergone a clandestine abortion. The abortion was very badly done by someone who wasn’t a proper doctor and my uterus was affected. When my mum and aunt came, they wanted to learn more about what was wrong with me. The doctor explained the situation to them.

On my return home my aunt explained the facts to my father in the presence of another girl who attends the same school as me. This is how the news spread to school. Some classmates were already coming to ask me at home whether it was true that I had had an abortion. I started to be afraid. Back at school, the students began to bully me by saying that I had aborted and that the headmaster had taken me to the hospital. I felt embarrassed, sidelined. The headmaster brought me back to the office to reassure me. He even threatened the students in collaboration with the teachers, which really comforted me. I told myself that I should not give up, that I could overcome this pain and fight for a better tomorrow. I had exams to do. So I concentrated as much as I could and received a good mark. At the end of this, I was awarded a scholarship for study abroad.

What if I had continued the pregnancy? I do not think I could have passed my exam and continued my studies.

Young people from Burkina Faso, this isn’t something which only happens to ‘other people’. Together, let’s say no to stigma and let girls like me realize their dreams! ”

Propos recueillis  par Sawdate SAWADOGO – Jeune championne/Présidente du Mouvement  d’Action des Jeunes de l’ABBEF

La stigmatisation de l’avortement est un problème crucial de nos jours et une question sensible pour tant de filles. L’avortement n’est souvent pas quelque chose que l’on prévoit… Il survient après analyse de certains paramètres jugés importants liés à la grossesse. Cependant, la stigmatisation est si forte que certaines filles sont souvent obligées de se détourner de leurs rêves. Mais Malia, élève d’un collège au Burkina Faso a relevé le défi. 

« Même si la pression sociale pèse sur vous, prenez vos responsabilités pour un lendemain meilleur »

« Je m’appelle Malia. Je suis en classe de 3ème  et j’ai 16 ans. Mon  rêve est d’être avocate. Il y a quelques mois, j’ai eu une grossesse non désirée ; comme je ne savais pas comment l’infirmière de la clinique allait réagir, je suis allée faire un avortement clandestin. Le lendemain, je ne me sentais pas bien, mais je me suis forcée pour aller à l’école de peur que mes parents ne remarquent mon mal. Arrivée en classe, je me sentais très malade, j’étais faible et je perdais du sang. Le proviseur m’a ramenée à la maison mais mes parents étaient absents. Il m’a donc conduite à l’hôpital. En cours de route, il m’a demandé pourquoi je perdais autant de sang. Je lui ai répondu que j’avais mes règles. Arrivée à l’hôpital, je suis tombée sur la terrasse. Après le diagnostic, le médecin a approché le proviseur pour lui annoncer que j’avais subi un avortement clandestin. L’avortement a été très mal fait et mon utérus était un peu touché. Quand ma maman et ma tante sont arrivées, elles voulaient apprendre davantage sur mon mal. Le médecin leur a expliqué la situation. Après les soins au retour à la maison ma tante a expliqué les faits à mon papa en présence d’une autre fille qui fréquente le même établissement. C’est ainsi  que la nouvelle s’est répandue à l’école. Certains camarades de classe venaient déjà me demander à la maison si c’était vrai que j’avais avorté. J’ai commencé à avoir peur. De retour à l’école, les élèves ont commencé à me héler en disant que j’avais avorté et que le proviseur m’avait amené à l’hôpital. Je me sentais gênée, mise à l’écart. Le proviseur m’a rappelée au bureau pour m’encourager. Il a même menacé les élèves en collaboration avec les professeurs, ce qui m’a vraiment réconfortée. Je me suis dit que je ne devrais pas baisser les bras, que je pourrais surmonter cette douleur et me battre pour un lendemain meilleur. Je devais composer le Brevet d’Etudes du Premier Cycle (BEPC). Je me suis donc concentrée dans les bosses et j’en suis sortie avec la mention ‘très bien’. A l’issue de cela, j’ai bénéficié d’une bourse d’études pour l’extérieur. 

Et si j’avais continué la grossesse ? Je ne pense pas que j’aurais pu réussir mon examen et poursuivre mes études.

Jeunes du Burkina Faso, cela n’arrive pas qu’aux autres. Ensemble, disons non à  la stigmatisation et permettons aux filles comme  moi de réaliser normalement leurs rêves ! »

 

In search of well-being / En quête d’un Bien-être

by Kader Avonnon, Youth Champion at Association Béninoise pour la Promotion de la Famille    (En français ci-dessous)

Safe abortion, permitted to some extent in most countries around the world, remains restrictive in the majority of these countries. In Benin, abortion services are permitted only when the pregnancy affects the health of the woman, in the case of fetal malformation or when the pregnancy occurs as a result of rape or incest. Outside of these conditions, voluntary interruption of pregnancy is considered a crime. But this restrictive aspect is the evil that destroys our society today, forcing young people to use clandestine, risky and high cost abortion services.

When a girl becomes pregnant and does not have the means to support herself, when she is afraid of the stigmatizing looks her peers will give her, when she thinks that pregnancy will be a source of exclusion from society, when she thinks that pregnancy will be a barrier to the achievement of her professional goals, she may choose to interrupt the pregnancy in order to secure a better future. In her quest for physical, mental and moral well-being, she will be obliged to resort to unsafe, unsuitable and high-risk abortion services as limited by the legal conditions of access to safe, secure services.

Even though she is aware of the risks of uterine perforation, hemorrhage, infection and death from ‘backstreet providers’, she often sees no other choice. This is how our young sisters risk their lives every day and many die. Are we waiting for the day when one of us will fall victim to the restriction of access to full abortion services before becoming aware of these risks? We created this trap, which affects the well-being of our friends, sisters, daughters, cousins, nieces, aunts, and mothers. By “this trap”, I am not just talking about the stigmatizing and discriminatory looks young women face. I am also astonished when I see the shame and violence they suffer in society.

One of my classmates had to drop classes because of the stigmatization she faced having made a decisive choice for her health and future. I met her years later in a department store in Cotonou. From our discussion here is a sentence that touched me. “You have all rejected me, humiliated me and threatened me – I was the laughing-stock of the whole school. I lost my taste for schooling, but I thank my parents who supported me and helped me to be what I am today.”

In Benin, we young activists work mostly in colleges with our peers and teachers to reduce the stigma that young people face. We provide support to young women and can accompany them to safe services. We must generate debate through our communications via blog-posts, mass-media, and mass sensitizations. The well-being of all is at stake.

L’avortement sans risque, autorisé dans la plupart des pays exception faite de six, demeure restrictif dans la majorité de ces pays. Restrictif parce que les services d’avortement ne sont autorisés que lorsque la grossesse porte atteinte à la santé de la femme, en cas de malformation fœtal ou quand la grossesse survient d’un viol ou d’un inceste (cas du Bénin). Outre ces conditions précitées, l’interruption volontaire de grossesse (IVG) est considérée comme un crime. Mais cet aspect restrictif est le mal qui détruit notre société de nos jours, car obligeant ainsi les jeunes à aller vers un service d’avortement clandestin, à risque et à coût élevé.

Lorsqu’une fille tombe enceinte et ne dispose pas de moyens pour l’entretenir, lorsqu’elle a peur du regard stigmatisant qu’auront ses pair-e-s sur elle, lorsqu’elle pense que la grossesse sera pour elle source d’exclusion de la société, lorsqu’elle pense que la grossesse sera un handicap pour l’atteinte de ses objectifs professionnels, la principale option qui s’offre à elle est d’interrompre la grossesse afin de s’assurer un avenir meilleur et de garantir ses chances de participer à la construction de la société. Dans sa quête du bien-être physique, mental et moral, elle sera obligée de faire recours aux services d’avortement non sécurisés, non adaptés et à haut risque car limitée par les conditions d’accès à un service sécurisé sans risque.

Même en étant consciente des risques de perforation utérine, d’hémorragie, d’infection et de décès, elle ne voit souvent pas d’autre choix.

C’est ainsi que nos jeunes sœurs risquent leur vie chaque jour et plusieurs en meurent. Attendons-nous le jour où une des nôtres sera victime de la restriction de l’accès aux services d’avortement complet avant de prendre conscience de ces risques ? Nous avons créé nous-mêmes ce piège qui affecte le bien-être de nos amies, nos sœurs, nos filles, nos cousines, nos nièces, nos tantes, et nos mamans.

« Ce piège », je ne parle pas seulement du regard stigmatisant et discriminatoire auquel ces dernières sont confrontées. Je suis davantage étonné lorsque je vois la honte et la violence dont elles sont victimes au sein de la société.

Pour la petite histoire, en classe de 3ème, une de mes camarades a dû abandonner les classes à cause de la stigmatisation dont elle a été victime pour avoir opéré un choix déterminant pour sa santé et son avenir. Je l’ai rencontrée des années après dans son grand magasin de vente de tissus à Cotonou. De notre discussion voici une phrase qui m’a touché. « Vous m’avez tous rejetée, humiliée, menacée et même violentée comme une voleuse, j’étais la risée de toute la salle ; j’ai ainsi perdu goût à la scolarisation, mais je rends grâce à mes parents qui m’ont soutenue et accompagnée pour que je sois ce que je suis aujourd’hui ».

L’accompagnement est un aspect très important lorsque les filles font recours aux services d’avortement, car il se veut un service comme tous les autres et constitue un des droits des jeunes. Jeunes activistes, c’est le moindre que nous pouvons apporter en travaillant surtout dans les collèges avec nos pair-e-s et les enseignant-e-s pour réduire la stigmatisation à laquelle les jeunes sont confrontées. Nous devons susciter le débat à travers nos communications via les blogs-post, les mass-médias, et les sensibilisations de mass. Il y va du bien-être de tous.

 

 

Abortion – a human right

by Arshpreet Kaur, young volunteer at the Family Planning Association of India

Each year, around the world, 19-20 million women undergo unsafe abortions [Source: WHO]. Although the law in India permits safe abortion under certain conditions, here one woman dies every two hours of an unsafe abortion [Source: TIME]. The root cause for this alarming statistic is stigma around abortion and the lack of awareness about sexual and reproductive health and rights.

I have grown up considering ‘miscarriage’ and ‘abortion’ as synonyms. The reason for this misconception is the preference of word ‘miscarriage’ by society due to stigma associated with abortion. In fact, miscarriage is spontaneous loss of pregnancy while abortion means terminating the pregnancy out of choice.

Why unsafe abortion?

Most women in India view abortion as ‘illegal’ so they opt for unsafe abortion. Due to stigma around abortion, it is difficult for women to access it safely; and the fear of discrimination causes them to try unsafe methods at home to induce abortion which can be fatal. The other unsafe abortions are a result of sex-selective abortion. In some parts of India, people still prefer a male child over a female child as they consider sons as breadwinners in their old age. Another reason is young girls are often denied abortion services; hence they are left with no other choice than unsafe abortion.

The MTP Act

Abortion is legal in India under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971 which allows for pregnancies less than 12 weeks to be terminated on the opinion of a single doctor. For pregnancies between 12-20 weeks, the opinion of two doctors is required for termination. Women are permitted to terminate their pregnancy by a registered medical practitioner under certain conditions – when there is a risk to the physical or mental health of woman (i.e. in the case of rape, contraceptive failure), and when there is a risk that the child would have “physical or mental abnormalities”.

If a girl is under 18 years of age, written consent from her guardian is required.

Proposed amendments to the MTP Act

In October 2014, the Ministry of Health and Welfare proposed some amendments to the MTP Act: to increase the time frame for abortion from 20 weeks to 24 weeks; to allow for an abortion to be carried out on the request of the pregnant woman instead of due to the opinion of the doctor; and to permit abortion beyond 24-weeks if the foetus has substantial abnormalities.

The draft amendments offer a positive step in the right direction. There is a need to immediately incorporate these amendments into an act which will save women from approaching the court, and from distress and a delay in abortion.

A human right

According to international human rights law, a person is granted with human rights only at birth which means a foetus is not entitled to human rights. It is the basic right of a woman to decide about her body, sexuality, fertility, and hence future. We have to acknowledge that stigma surrounding abortion would never wipe out demand for abortion. So, there is a need to strike a fine balance between abortion laws and the right to bodily integrity allowing women to own and decide about their bodies.

A nurse’s experience of abortion stigma

By Caesar Kaba Kogoziga, peer educator at Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana

In one of the hospitals where I had my clinical practice, a senior nurse in charge of family planning shared her story with me on abortion stigma.According to her, she had been a leader in her church for as long as five years and many of her church members sought advice from her in those days on matters of faith. Even though abortion contradicts her beliefs,that was her work in the hospital those days. She was in charge of counselling people and preparing them for abortion.

One day, the daughter of one of the senior pastors in her church came in for an abortion. According to her, she was surprised and confused but that was her job so she had to do it. She thought of informing the girl’s parents but that was against the ethics of her profession. So she did her work but in a disturbed state.

Days later, her own pastor invited her into his office and confronted her,asking her why she helped the lady go through a safe abortion. The parents of the girl were also present and expressed their disappointment in her action. Stating that she should have known better since she is one of the counsellors in the church and people look up to her. They demanded that the pastor punish her for what she did.

In church the following Sunday, the pastor announced that she had been suspended of her duties until further notice. An experienced nurse that did her job well and also functioned very well in church lost her role due to abortion stigma.

Her pastor spoke strongly against the nurse in his sermon in church. According to her, this incident made her question her position as a believer. She felt guilty and shameful especially in her relationship with her church members.

Months later, a 19 year old and a member of the church died. It was reported that the young lady died due to an illegal abortion.

“Reflecting on this, it occurred to me that the lady but for the condemnation of her pastor would have visited the hospital for a safe abortion. Coincidentally, the only near hospital was the one in which I worked.  Certainly, the young lady would not feel good seeking abortion from me again.” The nurse told me.

Abortion stigma has taken another life.
This story among others was the reason I decided to join the fight against abortion stigma.

 

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