Why Birth and Death are Simultaneous for Women in South Africa

Young mother with child, Ermole

Poor infrastructure, lack of privacy and limited access to health services are only a few of the factors contributing to the devastating maternal mortality rate in South Africa.

There is a rural area in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa where the maternal mortality rate more than doubled from 2011 to 2012. Why are women so at risk for dying during childbirth in this province? The reasons are complex and inter-related but many factors can be addressed by the provincial Minister of Health. And we are demanding that he does. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

It is past time for El Salvador to rescind its total abortion ban

El Salvador: Marlene was accused and charged with having an abortion after she had a miscarriage when she was 18 years old.

El Salvador: Marlene was accused and charged with having an abortion after she had a miscarriage when she was 18 years old.

I was on a plane coming back from Mexico when I first encountered the stories of children and young women in El Salvador suffering from the country’s universal criminalization of abortion, a law that is now more than a decade old. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Where is the Evidence Against These 17 Women in El Salvador?

Being able to make your own decisions about sexuality, pregnancy and motherhood is a basic human right (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

Being able to make your own decisions about sexuality, pregnancy and motherhood is a basic human right (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

Imagine waking up in a hospital and learning that you are under arrest, accused of killing your own infant.

Despite your efforts to explain that you had a miscarriage and passed out from medical complications, the authorities sentence you to up to four decades in an overcrowded prison where you “suffer harassment, exclusion, and violence both from other inmates as well as prison personnel” because of the accusations against you.

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Chile Might Be Reforming Its Total Abortion Ban

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet supports the decriminalization of abortion in cases of rape, when the life of the mother is at risk, and when the fetus is not viable.

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet supports the decriminalization of abortion in cases of rape, when the life of the mother is at risk, and when the fetus is not viable (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

By Teresa Vargas Valdes, Chile Country Specialist and Tarah Demant, Women’s Human Rights Thematic Specialist

In Chile, it’s criminal to get an abortion, even when the life of the mother is at risk. Since 1991, several congressional bills have been presented in Chile in order to allow exceptions to this restrictive law, the most recent of which was in April 2012, when the Senate rejected three motions that would have decriminalized the legal interruption of pregnancy in three different contexts: when the life of the mother is at risk, rape and when the fetus is not viable.

The current total abortion ban allows for not such exceptions, and this extreme restriction on women’s reproductive health rights not only conflicts with international law, it also puts the lives of countless women and girls at risk.

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Tell the United Nations: Protect #MyBodyMyRights!

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I’ve just come from opening week at the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), when thousands of women’s rights activists and member state delegations descend on New York to review the current state of affairs for women and girls globally and recommend actions states can take to advance gender equality and promote female empowerment.

Many of the events this week are calling attention to sexual and reproductive rights as a primary barrier to development progress and the enjoyment of rights and dignity for all. The priority theme for the CSW this year is a review of progress for women and girls under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

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Update in the Struggle to #SaveBeatriz!

Members of Amnesty International protest in front of the El Salvador embassy in Mexico City, on May 29, 2013 (Photo Credit: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images).

Members of Amnesty International protest in front of the El Salvador embassy in Mexico City, on May 29, 2013 (Photo Credit: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images).

In collaboration with Lyric Thompson, member of Amnesty International USA’s Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

On Wednesday, the Salvadoran Supreme Court of Justice issued a shameful decision in the case of Beatriz, the young Salvadoran mother we wrote about earlier. She is currently in a high risk pregnancy and suffers from lupus and related health problems. Her doctors have recommended an abortion to save her life, yet the Salvadoran government refuses to give her access to the medical treatment that she needs.

In response to this violation of her human rights, nearly 200,000 Amnesty activists from over 20 countries have called on the Salvadoran government to #SaveBeatriz.

As part of this campaign to save Beatriz, we were shocked by yesterday’s ruling by the Salvadoran Supreme Court that Beatriz’s doctors cannot proceed with the abortion they say is necessary to save her life. This decision compounds the suffering already caused by the lengthy and unnecessary delays that the Court created prior to issuing this ruling, taking over a month and a half after Beatriz’s lawyers first filed the request for protection (amparo) on April 11.

The Court itself recognized Beatriz is now entering a very risky stage with regards to her health. And yet, the Court’s decision will continue to subject Beatriz to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment by denying her the medical intervention she so urgently needs while her health continues to deteriorate.

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Why El Salvador Must Immediately #SaveBeatriz

Women's human rights activists gather in El Salvador to demand Beatriz is granted the life-saving treatment she needs (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

Women’s human rights activists gather in El Salvador to demand Beatriz is granted the life-saving treatment she needs (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

As you’re reading this, the Salvadoran authorities are STILL biding their time discussing the merits of Beatriz’s case, the young mother we posted about earlier this month. While she’s in the hospital experiencing early stage kidney failure, the authorities are holding the key to her life that is quickly fading.

We’ve promised updates on this case. Unfortunately, we know that Beatriz has been subjected to another week of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and have no news regarding action by the authorities to save her life – in accordance with her wishes, and the recommendation of the health professionals responsible for her care.

Imagine you are in a hospital. You have lupus and you are experiencing kidney complications as a result. You have a one-year old son at home who was delivered by cesarean section weeks early because of pregnancy-related health complications. You’re pregnant again, and have been diagnosed as high-risk.

You found out after three sonograms your fetus is anencephalic, meaning that a portion of the fetus’s brain - consisting mainly of the cerebral hemispheres including the neo-cortex - doesn’t exist. With very few exceptions, fetuses with anencephaly do not make it to term and none survive infancy.

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