Catrina Schulte-Hellen is an expert on women’s health at Pregnancy abortion tablets in UAE Doctors Without Borders and also deals with the issue of abortion. We spoke to her about the impact of Donald Trump’s policies on women’s health around the world and why the abortion business is benefiting.
Every day, more than 800 women around the world die from preventable complications during pregnancy or childbirth, 99 percent of them in poorer countries. In addition to bleeding, blood poisoning, birth complications and high blood pressure , improper abortion is one of the top five causes of maternal death. They often lead to serious health problems and can even be fatal.
Despite the significant risks, women resort to unsafe methods when there are no safe and legal options, reports Catrin Schulte-Hillen , MSF women’s health expert .
According to the World Health Organization (WHO)
Around 22 million improper abortions are perform each year. This means that they are carry out by people who do not have the necessary skills or in an environment that does not meet minimum medical standards. It is estimate that 47,000 women and girls die each year from these abortions, and five million more suffer as a result. The actual extent is unknown – many women and girls have no possibility to seek medical help afterwards and no one knows how many really die from it.
However, the US government is continuing its anti-abortion policy and has cut other organizations from grants for their health aid in developing countries. wienerin.at spoke to Catrin Schulte-Hillen from Doctors Without Borders about how the new US President Donald Trump is making the situation even worse and what this means for the illegal abortion business for women worldwide.
The work of non-governmental organizations in the field of abortion has only recently been the subject of intense discussion as part of the reintroduce Global Gag Rule after Donald Trump took office. How exactly does the Global Gag Rule work ?
Catrin Schulte-Hillen: US funds should not be use for work relate to abortions. This was initially done in a relatively light form and refer to the fact that these funds very specifically cannot be use for abortions. Then it was always ping-pong: when the Republicans were there, the gag rule became active again; when the Democrats were there, the gag rule relax again. So far, however, it has always been about the direct financing of abortions.
What has US President Donald Trump changed here?
The organizations could continue to do everything around, and “only” not carry out the abortion. The way Donald Trump has now introduce it is a whole new dimension. They don’t talk about the activity itself, but cut the money from organizations that have anything to do with abortions. Many organizations do HIV prevention, family planning, births – all sorts of health-promoting actions and campaigns. At the moment it looks like the gag rule under Trump could have a gigantic impact. It would be trillions of dollars. A country like Mozambique, which receives a lot of US money and which recently decriminalize abortion, would be directly affect by this decision. Will this be carry through
The conditions are certainly stricter than before. At the moment the prospects are unclear, but things could get pretty dramatic. And that not only affects women’s health, but all other activities of the organizations, such as nutrition projects. Especially in conflict situations or in the field of humanitarian aid, it is usually the case that the organizations have a fairly wide range of activities. We, as Doctors Without Borders, are not directly affect ourselves because we have not taken any funds from the US government for many years.
What are the health implications of this for women around the world?
Not only on women – as it is now formulate, it would also affect children and men. Anything that directly leads to mortality in the humanitarian field: HIV, nutritional assistance, family planning. But of course it hits women particularly hard. If a woman does not have a legal way to terminate her pregnancy, she will find other ways. And we know that’s one of the biggest factors in female mortality. But it’s not just about dying or not dying – it’s about the conditions under which decisions about one’s own body can be made. It’s about dignity.
In your work in the field, you yourself had a lot to do with abortions. What is the situation when women try to have an abortion by other means?
I’ve been in the field more selectively for many years. I am currently in Congo a lot. Of course, I’ve talk to many women who have tried terminating their pregnancy. Every day we see women who come to us because of this. In 2015, across all Médecins Sans Frontières projects, we had 13,000 cases of women who came to us with complications after an abortion or miscarriage. Up to 80 percent of women who come to a health care facility with complications have attempt to terminate a pregnancy.
They either come because they drank some tea or infusions, took medication, tried sticks or iron sticks, battery acid, etc. A woman in Congo try vaginal douching with a smash Coke bottle because someone told her so . The injuries were horrible. The taboo on abortion naturally makes the situation even more difficult.
Why do right-wing conservative politicians keep causing this oppression and endangerment of women?
I can’t comment on politics. I would say in general: in most countries the issue of abortion is an extremely delicate issue because it is politicize. It’s not that politicians are necessarily behind it themselves, but they use the issue in one way or another without paying attention to what it means to women. Because it has political weight, since the social norms in our society still have a problem with the issue of abortion.
Broadly speaking, of course, this has to do with how women are view in our society, including under the influence of the church etc. But it’s not about who’s right here – whether abortion is legalize or criminalize doesn’t affect who amount of interruptions. Whether it’s legal or not, women do it. The only thing that changes are the conditions under which it happens. If something is illegal, the request remains the same, but underground monopolies emerge. Whoever makes the offer can dictate the price and is not responsible for any quality.
That means there is a business of illegal abortions?
The Miami Herald did a great story on this and check out the private clinics in Haiti. One of these clinics, which performs abortions, said: “Providing abortion is like dealing cocaine. Once you start, the money is so good you can’t stop.” And it is. In Congo, where a doctor’s salary is $200, an abortion in rural areas costs $80. If someone in healthcare does it, say a nurse in a small village, we’re up to $200. In a small clinic it costs $600, and the whole thing goes up to $1000. Of course, maintaining this business monopoly is also a factor that helps keep abortion illegal. Add to this are the social norms
Those who live in the refugee camp in Lebanon and already have four children do not want a fifth. It is quickly forgotten that no woman makes this decision lightly. I have never met such a woman in my many years of work. Actually, every time there is a sad story and suffering behind it. What happens in a woman’s life that she surrenders to this trauma? A woman doesn’t do that because she doesn’t feel like taking the pill. There are many other reasons behind it. For more about abortion contact us at Abortion counselling center in Dubai.