HAVANA TIMES, May 4 — Venezuelan women have no rights when it comes to decisions about their bodies. One woman dies every week there due to clandestine abortions and their consequences.
Although a leftist government has ruled the country for 13 years, the criminal code seems to be governed more by the Catholic Church, since that book of law calls for six months to two years imprisonment for women who terminate their pregnancy, and one to three years for anyone else implicated.
One tablet of the early abortion pill misoprostol — which is sold clandestinely in pharmacies — costs between 25 and 50 bolivars (between $6 and $12 USD). Despite the ban, 16 percent of maternal deaths in Venezuela are due to clandestine abortions.
Of course most of these deaths are of poor women. These same women are a key part of the Bolivarian Revolution, assuming that the mission of the Chavez government includes these women who have been excluded for decades. They are also those who are most in need.
The abortion issue is controversial for many people, but it’s a necessity for many women, and not only when an embryo threatens their immediate life.
But there’s something real: the more that is done to forbid this right, the more we’ll see female deaths occurring, the more those engaged in clandestine abortions will benefit, and the more physical and mental harm will come to women and society as a whole.
The National Assembly has said that the Gender Equality Law will not consider the application or the evaluation of the decriminalization of abortion.
Currently Venezuela has begun to apply a new employment law: the “Ley Organica del Trabajo”, as it’s presently called. Through it, maternity leaves will be the longest on the continent, with 26 weeks of prenatal leave and 20 weeks of postpartum time off.
This seems to be in competition with other countries — ones Cuba and Chile — where some time off is “given” to pregnant women.
In my humble opinion, this concern seems to highlight a tremendous hypocrisy. That is, highlighting the humanity of measures for pregnant women, as they also portray abortion — on subway-station billboards, etc. — as a crime that must be fought against by the Venezuelan people.