Tuesday, April 18, 2006
An aboslute must read From the April 9th New York Times. (click and sign up for free registration and you can see the article)
This article is 14 pages long but will blow your mind. Here's a synopsis for those who don't have time to read it...
Author Jack Hitt takes an in-depth look at the abortion laws in El Salvador. Previously this country had laws similar to our own in America, where abortion could be used in severe circumstances or if early enough. Now abortion is a serious felony in El Salvador. Prison sentences can be as long as 30 years... not just for the doctor... FOR THE WOMAN.
The restrictions on abortion in El Salvador are simple. No abortion. PERIOD. Not in the case of rape, incest, fetal malformation, or life of the mother. This means when an ectopic pregnancy is discovered NOTHING CAN BE DONE!!--- (where a microscopic fertilized egg moves down the fallopian tube - which is no bigger around than a pencil- and gets stuck there or stuck in the abdomen). Take a moment and stop and think of what this means...
A microscopic fertilized egg that is caught in a fallopian tube can mean serious medical complications for a women, often it means death. As the egg grows and runs out of room, the tube ruptures, internal bleeding occurs. Operation is necessary to save a mother's life but in El Salvador the doctor must wait to operate until the egg shows signs of rupturing. So when a woman comes into the office with an ectopic pregnancy she is kept in the hospital where she will receive daily ultrasounds to check for rupturing. Once it starts rupturing-- THEN the operation can take place. But rupturing causes severe pain and can result in death.... SOMEONE EXPLAIN THE LOGIC?? Oh wait, there is none.
In El Salvador, they are serious about their ridiculous laws. They have whole teams of people to enforce them. Police, investigators, medical spies, forensic vagina inspectors and a special division of the prosecutor’s office charged with capturing, trying and incarcerating women and the doctors or back-alley people who operate.
When El Salvador's law changed it was backed by strong grass-roots campaigning from conservatives and the church. Even Pope John Paul II visited Mexico City in 1999 urging "The church must proclaim the Gospel of life and speak out with prophetic force against the culture of death." I'm sorry but I consider keeping women in a hospital waiting for the fallopian tubes to rupture a WAY BIGGER culture of death.
This is serious business. I mean ARTICLE #1 of the constitution in El Salvador declares that the prime directive of government is to protect life from the "very moment of conception."
"The penal code detailing the Crimes Against the Life of Human Beings in the First Stages of Development provides stiff penalties: the abortion provider, whether a medical doctor or a back-alley practitioner, faces 6 to 12 years in prison. The woman herself can get 2 to 8 years. Anyone who helps her can get 2 to 5 years. Additionally, judges have ruled that if the fetus was viable, a charge of aggravated homicide can be brought, and the penalty for the woman can be 30 to 50 years in prison."
In case you are wondering, the judicial system in El Salvador determines that viability is when a fetus weighs more than a pound. A pound of fetus = way more important than a woman who may have been raped, or abused in incest, or afraid of a deformed or sick child....
Women in El Salvador have turned to clothes hangers, iron bars, high doses of contraceptives, fertilizers, gastritis remedies, soapy water and battery acid or ulcer pills to induce abortions. If these result in severe complications, women often die rather than visit a hospital.
But can you blame them?
If a woman goes to a hospital and it's suspected she's had an abortion, the investigation begins immediately. Women are handcuffed to hospital beds while their vagina is "searched as the scene of a crime" for evidence. If a botched abortion results in a hysterectomy, the uterus is saved as "evidence" for a criminal trial. A women's own uterus is used against her.
Police also interrogate relatives and neighbors of the woman. They visit the woman's place of business (if she has any, studies show many of these women are homemakers or very young) and ask co-workers and supervisors if they knew whether the woman was pregnant and whether she'd had an abortion. The law mandates that if a doctor finds signs of an abortion, they are required to turn the woman in -- confidentiality be damned.
There's so much more I could go on about. Obviously, this law affects primarily the poor women. Rich women in El Salvador still fly to Miami to get their abortions, or pay off trustworthy doctors for safe operations.
The scary thing is-- there are some in this country who wouldn't mind seeing this happen in the USA! Thomas J. Euteneuer, the head of Human Life International, based in Virginia said, "El Salvador is an inspiration, an important victory in the counterrevolution of conscience."
We can also fear this attitude in our own politicians. During an October 2004 show of "Meet the Press," host Tim Russert asked Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican representative to explain his position in favor of a total ban on all abortion procedures. DeMint said he thought Congress should outlaw all abortions first and worry about the fallout later. "We've got to make laws first that protect life," he said. "How those laws are shaped are going to be a long debate."
The fallout?? Like my life and the life and health of women everywhere? Where we have to die in a wave of blood at home because going to a hospital means being chained to the bed and examined and having our own uterus as evidence against us??
Don't be fooled! The religious right are not about protecting women or saving life. They are about trampling women's rights. Be very, very afraid.