A new video produced by ANSIRH (Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health) explores the difficulty of accessing a safe abortion -- even in countries where the procedure legal.
The beautifully illustrated video features voices of women from six different countries -- the United States, Tunisia, Nepal, Colombia, South Africa and Bangladesh -- who share their experiences of deciding to have an abortion, and of the barriers that they came up against upon trying to access the procedure.
The barriers include financial instability, lack of education about the procedure and about their legal rights, geographic disadvantages for women in rural locations and the strong social stigma that may come not just from a woman's own community but from her healthcare providers as well.
One woman, from Tunisia, says she was turned away by doctors and told to come back twice over a months-long period, during which the fetus grew too far along to be legally aborted. "During this period of time, they really fooled me," she said. Another woman, from South Africa, had so little support that she felt "the government is basically forcing me to get a backstreet abortion."
The video was made by ANSIRH for their Global Turnaway Study, the longterm goal of which is "to compare the consequences of legal abortion, illegal abortion, and carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term in a variety of settings." This study comes after the successful completion of the US-focused Turnaway Study, a five-year look at "the impact of receiving versus being denied an abortion on women’s physical and mental health and socioeconomic well-being in the U.S." After its success, California-based ANSIRH decided to apply the same study to several countries all over the world. While the study is still underway, ANSIRH researchers have found that "many women (two percent to 45 percent) are denied legal abortion care," in the video's countries of focus.
The video's message recalls a powerful statement that comedian and political commentator John Oliver made on his show at the end of February: "Abortion cannot be theoretically legal, it has to be literally accessible." The women's stories in the video remind us that safe access to abortion must be both.
Watch the video, and learn more about the study, here.