The Truth Behind Abortion: Tales of Harassment and Risk Faced by Women throughout the World

From being insulted continuously to being physically abused, women throughout the world have no other option but to face the raw truth: abortion is more than losing a fetal heartbeat. Women do not only experience dramatic, emotional changes before and in the aftermath of getting an abortion. They feel pressure from their family and friends as well as from themselves when deciding to have an abortion or to refrain from it. Aside from the emotional difficulties, the body of a woman that had an abortion suffers from physical pain. On top of that, every day, thousands of us encounter physical and emotional abuse from anti-choice strangers in abortion clinics. Does the type of abuse and emotional stress vary depending on the country? Most likely. Here’s a glance at how women face the choice and act of abortion all around the world.

  1. 1. United States

    Hate mail, harassing phone calls, constant picketing and confrontations: these are some of the daily forms of hatred witnessed in US abortion clinics. A year ago, almost 80 percent of abortion clinics reported a rise in acts of obstruction or behavior that is meant to halt the provision of services in abortion clinics. Protesters have been reported to have sent death threats to employees. It’s no surprise that both abortion providers and patients have come to feel unsafe and startled in the clinics.

  2. 2. Myanmar

    In this Asian country, abortion is not only illegal: those who defy the law are punished for up to 10 years in jail. Prohibition, however, leads not to refraining from the practice of abortion. Women, like Thiri, whose name was changed to protect her identity, was forced to look for underground pills to end an unwanted pregnancy. After finding out Thiri was pregnant, her boyfriend abandoned her. Sex before marriage is considered a disgrace in Myanmar. Consequently, women are forced to seek pills to get illegal abortions. Others, however, visit backstreet clinics, which usually end up in the death of thousands of women who bleed to death at the hands of underground surgeons.

  3. 3. United Kingdom

    Anti-abortion protesters surprised Monika Neall in Manchester, blocking her car with their placards. In her attempt to seek reproductive health services, she felt distressed, harassed and uncomfortable after her privacy was violated. Protesters have even sat in front of the clinics while breastfeeding babies to intimidate those who are looking to be provided reproductive health services.

  4. 4. Saudi Arabia

    When a woman’s life is at risk or when an unwanted pregnancy occurs as a result of incest or rape, abortion might be permitted in Saudi Arabia. With fear of retribution and punishment, women abandon babies that have resulted from pre-marital sex. Not only do families often blame the woman even after being raped, but some conservative families might even kill the girl if she was raped. As in other countries, strict abortion laws have forced women to find alternative and illegal ways to have abortions. Besides having a minimum power with what they can and cannot do with their bodies, women are unable to divorce, work or travel without being given permission by a male guardian.

Whether women receive death threats, confrontations or legal punishment, undergoing an abortion is an emotionally painful process.  Worldwide, punishment accompanies women who exert their right to choose over their bodies. Attempting to protect a human life, should not be accompanied by the loss of dignity and respect of another human being.