Monday, June 15, 2009

Abortion "clinic" raided in Santiago

There will be no puppies, nor rainbows, nor butterflies today. It's not that I didn't have a great weekend amid the rain and the work-a-day Sunday which is kind of lame, but I'm sure I deserved it in negative comptime I've accrued in the past several weeks, and what kind of a boss would I be if I didn't make myself work?

But I'm rotten with sad right now, and it's all because of this. An illegal abortion clinic was raided in a building I go to frequently. I have a friend that lives in the building, and in fact, probably used to live on the same floor as the "clinic."

Think about what I just said: an illegal abortion clinic (see? no puppies). Illegal. Against the law. Underground, undercover, untested, unobserved, uninvestigated, unregulated, uninspected. Where women went to have a "doctor" against whom they have no recourse, terminate their unwanted pregnancies.

What could cause a woman to do something so stupid? When you choose the doctor at which to get your yearly well-visit, do you choose the cheapest? the dirtiest? the most clandestine? You do not. You ask your friends and you investigate and you look at what works with your insurance, and you go out and just get it done.

But what about this? A person operating under "minimal conditions" according to the article. Who did he think he was? A mercenary? a feminist? Or just someone taking advantage of women who don't have any other choice?

I'm sick with anger and frustration at the situation, at the fact that the clinic had to exist in the first place, that the police investigated the situation for months, that they raided it, and that it's shut down now.

And then just for fun, I did a quick google search and found out that here in Santiago I can have a number of drugs delivered to my home (or sent to me, if I don't live in the Metro Region) to terminate my unwanted (and in my case nonexistent) pregnancy up to nine weeks of gestation, though the pills may work until later in the pregnancy, but with increased side-effects. One one site, the person advertising the meds offers that he/she has "bastante conocimiento en el tema" (abundant knowlege on the topic).

Well, isn't that reassuring.

WHAT?! This is a medical procedure. Keeping abortion illegal forces women to make choices they shouldn't have to, like taking a potentially dangerous medication on their own, waiting for its effects, or going down to a basement apartment in Plaza Italia, and finding that the clinic that was supposed to solucionar el problema (solve the problem) has been police-line-taped shut.

This situation isn't new, and it's not limited to Chile. It's just that my eyes just got opened a touch wider to what's going on around me. And I'm not shutting them again.

Chile has one of the highest abortion rates in Latin America, according to this news piece, which also gives information for a phone number that women can call to get information about "safe abortions," a hotline staffed by Red Salud Mujeres Chile. (Women's Health Network, Chile). I haven't called, so I don't know what kind of advice they're offering, but unless it involves a trip over the border, the actions that women are being told to take are illegal and criminal (can be prosecuted).

And I'm ready to get flamed, so go ahead. I stand by my convictions that education, family planning and actual availability of Plan B (la píldora día después) would markedly reduce the number of abortions women seek, and that when they choose to do so, it should be under medical advice from doctors at licensed, inspected clinics in the light of day, and not in a basement apartment just steps from the Baquedano metro.

Your turn.


Richard said...

No flaming - i'm with you on this. All making it illegal does is force people into places where unscrupulous folk can take advantage of them and leave them with no recourse.

Your story reminded me of a chat I and a few others had with a leading female businesswoman here in SA about personal issues of various sorts. We have a law here that a girl under 16 is allowed to obtain an abortion without her parents consent if she so chooses. One of the more traditional ladies asked the speaker whether she agreed with this, as it was the parents' "right" to be able to make these decisions on their child's behalf.

To which the speaker replied that, frankly, if your child is under 16 and has fallen pregnant, you have probably failed as a parent and really should not be making decisions about your child. Which I thought was a rather eloquent and sharp response.

But then I am a raging liberal :)

Joanna said...

It is possible to get a safe abortion at the Clinica Alemana (if you can afford it).

Eileen said...

Joanna, that may be true, though I don't know. I do know that it's still illegal and criminal, which I find nonsensical and very anti-woman. Lots of women also go to other nearby (or not so nearby) countries to do the same.

In the words of Diggable Planets "they'll make it a privilege, not a right, accessible only to the rich" (talking about the Supreme Court in their awesome song called Femme Fetal.

Katie said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Eileen. Women deserve the right to make their own reproductive choices no matter where they live. Limited access to birth control and clinics where abortions can be performed in a controlled environment force women to make bad decisions. Thank you for bringing this topic to light on your blog.

Anonymous said...

El gran problema en Chile es el doble estándar: si eres pobre, estás "cagado", de lo contrario, adelante.

Suma a eso las convicciones religiosas que dominan la sociedad y listo, cóctel mortal.

¿Resultado? el Tribunal Consitucional prohibiendo que se reparta la pildora del día después en el sistema público, pero dejándola disponible en farmacias para quien pueda pagar un médico que la recete y, luego, tenga el dinero restante para comprar la prescripción.

Yo soy un contrario al aborto(salvo terapéutico y eugenésico, pero eso es lógico, si la madre va a morir o el bebé viene en camino sin pulmones, por ej) pero, creo que es necesario poner a disposición de toda la sociedad los distintos medios de anticoncepción, educar al respecto y posibilitar el acceso porayudas estatales. Eso no se da en Chile.

Canales de TV (Canal 13, Mega) se niegan a transmitir campañas de uso del condón, parlamentarios se oponen a su entrega gratuita en consultorios y hospitales (menos mal no han podido frenar esto), etc.

Por convicciones religiosas y morales de OTROS, hoy en día, alguien pobre se embaraza y punto, no tiene acceso a píldora del día después, ni nada.

A veces odio tanto que en mi país 3eras personas intenten imponer su moral.

Sharon said...

I agree with Tobal. With proper availability of contraceptive methods and proper sex ed, people wouldn't be driven to make such rash decisions. We need to educate people so they can have a choice.