Anti-abortion laws don’t work and endanger women
Christina Kposowa vividly remembers the day she almost died. She was 23 years old and was heavily bleeding after an unsafe abortion to end her unplanned pregnancy.
A few years prior, she had given birth to two children and she was struggling to care for her family. She couldn’t make ends meet in her hometown in Sierra Leone. When she realized she was pregnant, Christina knew she could not give birth again.
“This was the time when pregnant women were not allowed into universities and colleges,” she explained. “With so much ambition to pursue my career, I was not ready to give up on my studies for anything. I realized that abortion was the only way out for my situation.”
Unfortunately, abortion is heavily restricted in Sierra Leone. With nowhere to turn, Christina nearly lost her life.
Every day millions of women around the world need abortions. But barriers — from restrictive laws to clinic harassment — keep them from receiving safe abortion care. Half of all abortions are unsafe, with 25 million women undergoing unsafe abortions each year. Seven million women face complications, which often result in a lifetime of poor health, disability or infertility. 22,800 women die every year because of these complications.
At MSI, we work with many women who have suffered unsafe abortions. We want lawmakers to know what women like Christina experience when they can’t access safe care.
With no other options, Christina decided to visit one of her neighborhood’s ‘pepe doctors,’ men with no medical training who offer abortions for a low price.
“The man who carried out the abortion was well known among young girls for his work on abortions,” she said. “When I arrived at his house, I was taken into a room where he performed the procedure using metal instruments I can’t describe.”
When she returned home, she realized something was wrong.
“Because I did not tell anyone and did not want anyone to know, all night I suffered with the pain in silence,” Christina said. “It reached a point when I could no longer bear the pain. That was when I thought I was going to die.”
When she could no longer bear the pain, she drove herself to the nearest MSI Sierra Leone clinic. There, doctors discovered that Christina had a perforated uterus that — if left untreated — would have killed her.
Our goal at MSI is to end all unsafe abortion in the next five years. Political efforts to restrict abortions set us back, but with your help, we can keep fighting to expand safe abortion access.
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