Brazil Works to Reduce Unsafe Abortions
Women in Brazil procure more than 1 million unsafe abortions each year, making the procedure one of the top three causes of avoidable death among women in Brazil. Doctors, government health officials and civil society organizations are working to reduce unsafe abortions in Brazil. While some attribute unsafe abortions to socio-economics, others debate abortion law.
RECIFE, BRAZIL – Luisa, 20, was 18 when she had an abortion in a clandestine clinic. She says she didn’t want to but felt as if she didn’t have any other choice.
Luisa, who declined to give her full name for privacy reasons, is the eldest of three daughters in a lower-middle-class family in Recife, a port city in northeastern Brazil. Her father worked in a factory and earned a decent wage, which was enough to provide the whole family with everything they needed.
Luisa worked during the day at a clothing store in a shopping mall. She quit her studies a year before to earn some money and become more independent from her parents. When the store hired her, though, she went back to school in the evenings with the support of her employer.
At this store, Luisa met Carlos, whose last name she declined to give for privacy reasons. He was looking for Christmas gifts that day, but came back many times after that to talk to her and eventually invited her on a date.
Carlos was 21 and the only son of a wealthy couple. With time, they fell in love. When they started to have sexual relations, Luisa says she realized she had to protect herself from a possible pregnancy so she began taking birth control pills.
But she soon started having strong headaches, so she went to see a doctor at the town’s family planning clinic. The doctor suggested that she change her contraceptive method to the diaphragm. She learned how to use it properly, and the headaches disappeared.
Three months later, however, she noticed her period was late. Luisa waited for another two weeks, then returned to the clinic. After some testing, they gave her the news: She was pregnant.