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COVID-19 became another obstacle for women seeking to terminate their pregnancy in Mexico

Abortion faces various obstacles, which have become more acute in the pandemic, even in entities where the right to decide is guaranteed, such as Mexico City (Photo: EFE)
Abortion faces various obstacles, which have become more acute in the pandemic, even in entities where the right to decide is guaranteed, such as Mexico City (Photo: EFE)

The legal interruption (ILE) and clandestine pregnancy is a difficult decision to make, as it involves processes of discrimination, stigma, emotional damage, lack of support and information, among others. But In the context of the health emergency, the abortion process has been affected by obstacles derived from health measures.

Even if The ILE service is established as an essential health activity, this does not imply that there are derived impediments to specify by voluntary decision or legal mandate. For example, there are those Difficulties arising from mobility restriction and willingness to check for possible symptoms of COVID-19.

In Mexico City, entity where the voluntary termination of pregnancy until 12 weeks is legal, the service operates in both public and private clinics, as verified Infobae Mexico through various calls to health officials and private clinics that guarantee this right to sexual and reproductive health.

But there are cases like Bianka Verduzco, who aborted in the current health emergency, locked in a room in Tijuana, Baja California, and following the safe abortion protocol of the World Health Organization (WHO). And although an option to terminate her pregnancy could have crossed into the United States, the border was partially closed, and practically only those who carry out commercial activities circulate. This, according to the agency EFE.

Although clinics to terminate pregnancy follow sanitary measures, the context of the pandemic may force them to space appointments, which would slow down the care process (ILE) (Photo: Goolge Maps)
Although clinics to terminate pregnancy follow sanitary measures, the context of the pandemic may force them to space appointments, which would slow down the care process (ILE) (Photo: Goolge Maps)

It is worth mentioning that the regulation of abortion in Mexico is established at the state level. Hence, there are circumstances where it is not punished or considered a crime.. In the country's 32 entities, for example, abortion is legal when the pregnancy is the product of rape.

But only in 24 it is allowed to terminate the pregnancy when it represents a danger of death for the mother. While 16 entities allow abortion in case of serious genetic alterations; fifteen states contemplate it when there is a risk to health and non-consensual artificial insemination; and 2 entities accept socioeconomic reasons to proceed with the abortion. At present, only Oaxaca and Cd. Mx allow ILE service until 12 weeks of gestation, according to the Spanish information agency.

In the capital there are four public clinics where the ILE service is provided free of charge, but only three operate in the current health emergency, These are: the Beatriz Velasco de Alemán Health Center; the Clinic Specialized in Women's Health "Marta Lamas"; and the Santa Catarina Community Clinic; according to data from the MARIA Social Justice Abortion Fund (Women, Abortion, Reproduction, Information and Accompaniment).

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Well This right to terminate pregnancy is a health service and, therefore, must be respected as an essential activity in the context of the pandemic, as provided by federal health authorities. Either by will, where it is regulated, or by jurisdictional mandate, in states that contemplate abortion due to rape, for example.

In the confinement stage, women see their support networks and access to accompaniment diminished, as physical distancing is available. An abortion at home could not be trusted to family members as it often carries stigma and discrimination (Michelle Mishina-Kunz / The New York Times)
In the confinement stage, women see their support networks and access to accompaniment diminished, as physical distancing is available. An abortion at home could not be trusted to family members as it often carries stigma and discrimination (Michelle Mishina-Kunz / The New York Times)

Too there are private clinics and foundations that also did not interrupt the legal abortion service in the context of the pandemic. For example, GineClinic, Consmed Ginecología, Ginecen, Fundación Naiset and Fundación Mariestops; health centers that were contacted by Infobae Mexico.

One of the difficulties faced by those who decide to abort is the lack of accompaniment, because in the health emergency, this issue has been exacerbated, since confinement forces physical distance between people. Thus, possible support networks are undermined.

In addition to that the women are confined with relatives to whom they normally hide their pregnancy or abortion due to the stigma generated. In that case, quarantine would further hinder an abortion option at home.

Another aggravated problem in the context of the health emergency is linked to mobility restrictions to avoid contagion, well, women who want to travel to the capital, because in their entities the right to voluntary abortion is not guaranteed, could expose themselves to contracting the disease. Because they would come to the epicenter of COVID-19, when, possibly, their locations do not have a serious coronavirus problem.

In addition to flights or truck runs that have been limited, according to Oriana López Uribe of Fondo María and consulted by Question.

According to the Abortion Fund María, there are only three ILE clinics that offer free pregnancy termination services (Photo: Goolge Maps)
According to the Abortion Fund María, there are only three ILE clinics that offer free pregnancy termination services (Photo: Goolge Maps)

Although public and private health centers must follow measures ordered by the Ministry of Health, there are guidelines that limit expedited access to the right of abortion. For example, There are clinics that must space appointments a day to avoid crowds. This slows down the care process..

Another protocol measure, which could backfire, is that which involves detection of symptoms associated with COVID-19 and the choice of attending to the patient who is going to abort or, First, channel her to appropriate medical care with her signs of illness.

That is, a scenario where the patient arrives at the clinic with an abortion service, there they detect a high temperature or possible flu, so she could not be treated at that time and return when she verifies that she did not contract a coronavirus infection.

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On the other hand, there are also the deadlines and the extent of the confinement (National Day of Healthy Distance). About, Amnesty International recommended that countries should make access to abortion more flexible to laws that specify gestation times.

Legal abortion has been a constant demand of feminist movements in Mexico. The current pandemic sharpens obstacles to access this right
PHOTO: PHOTO STATION /CUARTOSCURO.COM

Legal abortion has been a constant demand of feminist movements in Mexico. The current pandemic sharpens obstacles to access this right
PHOTO: PHOTO STATION /CUARTOSCURO.COM

"Given the foreseeable delays in accessing the voluntary termination of pregnancy service, States should consider making access to this service more flexible for those laws that provide for a system of deadlines, regardless of the reason why the termination of the pregnancy is requested, ”the international organization pointed out in a guide to protect the human rights of women and girls during COVID-19 issued last April.

They would also be the consequences of economic crisis derived from the paralysis of work activitiesBecause many women or couples would see an obstacle in paying for abortion. For example, those who decide to travel to the capital, with the balance that this implies in terms of lodging and transportation, and pay for the health service in a private clinic if the public service is saturated. Conditions that aggravate and aggravate the possible precariousness of many women before the pandemic.

In 2019, the clinics and hospitals of the Ministry of Health of the Cd. Mx made 9,084 voluntary legal terminations of pregnancy; of which, 3,431 corresponded to women not belonging to the capital, well 2,919 were from the State of Mexico, neighboring entity and the 512 remaining cases, from nearby states like Puebla (101), Hidalgo (66), Morelos (45), Querétaro (42); and other more distant entities such as Jalisco (41), Veracruz (32) and Guanajuato (23). But there were also interruptions of women identified with states like Baja California, Yucatan, Sinaloa and San Luis Potosí. This, according to data from the Digital Agency for Public Innovation.

In addition to these vulnerabilities, there are those that are “habitual” and risk the lives of women., like aborting clandestinely, without advice or guarantees of health security. Especially, by the vast majority of entities that do not yet regulate legitimate access to the voluntary interruption of pregnancy.

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Sam Conley is new to online journalism but she is keen to learn. She is an MBA from a reputed university. She brings together relevant news pieces from various industries. She loves to share quick news updates. She is always in search of interesting news so that she can share them as well to Sunriseread's readers who could enjoy them with their morning coffee.

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