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Abortions not safe, legal or rare in Latin American and the Caribbean

Miami Herald | 12-21-2013

Seven countries in Latin America and the Caribbean — El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Chile, Suriname, Dominican Republic and Haiti — do not allow abortions for any reason, not even to save the life of the mother, according to Jennifer Friedman, senior program officer of the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

Women who are suspected of having abortions are prosecuted and often sentenced to prison. One such woman is Glenda Xiomara Cruz, 19, of El Salvador, who, on Oct. 30, 2012, miscarried her baby and is now serving a 10-year sentence for aggravated homicide.

Cruz is the mother of a 4-year-old girl. Her abusive partner testified against her in court.

Both PBS and BBC have reported that the prosecution relied heavily on that man’s testimony of her guilt.

A chilling story in The Miami Herald on Nov. 23, contained the following paragraph: “Abortion is illegal in Haiti, but women and girls are losing their uteruses and their lives as they turn to clandestine, increasingly deadly ways to terminate their pregnancies. These unsafe abortions are leading to a public-health crisis in a region with one of the world’s highest rates of unintended pregnancies, experts say.

And this: “Haiti’s health ministry, which has sought to take charge of the abortion debate, has estimated that unsafe abortions account for 20 percent to 30 percent of maternal mortality. But the reality is, the annual number of abortion-related deaths is unknown.”

The reality is that women in the Americas are having abortions, whether they are legal or not.

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