The dangers of unsafe abortion in Mexico
Bárbara Pérez, who works for the MSI Mexico Midwife Project, sees the lengths women will go to in order to end an unwanted pregnancy.
In Mexico City, a woman can legally obtain an abortion up to 12 weeks into her pregnancy. But in Chiapas, a region of extreme poverty, abortion is highly restricted. Many women can’t afford to travel to the capital city – and they turn to desperate measures.
“On many occasions women do practices like sticking wires to themselves to interrupt the pregnancy. We have had cases where women have taken a pesticide in the fields when they found out they were pregnant,” Bárbara says.
Bárbara teaches a traditional midwife how to insert an IUD.
Barbara conducts a group training on short-term methods.
Going where nobody else can
The MSI Midwives Project is working to address this inequality. MSI team members train midwives in local communities to offer contraception safely. Their work enables women to prevent the unintended pregnancies that can drive them to unsafe abortions.
“Our intention is that community leaders who are midwives, promoters or nurses can have the information that we share on sexual and reproductive health in a scientific, secular and objective way,” Bárbara explains.
Bárbara and her team travel to remote communities that no one else reaches in Oaxaca, Chiapas and Guerrero. They work among the most vulnerable populations, tailoring their message to the needs of the communities they visit.
In many of the communities where she works, Bárbara encounters women with misconceptions about contraception.
“They believe it can be harmful, or that they may not be able to get pregnant again. So, our work is to inform them and to erase all those myths around contraception.”
In the 14 years since Bárbara joined MSI, she has seen dramatic changes. “In those days, abortion was barely discussed in the communities. Nowadays it is different, you can mention the words clitoris, orgasm or IUD.”
Bárbara visits a family in Chiapas, Mexico.
Bárbara discusses contraception with a community health promoter.
Contraception saves lives
Bárbara knows that when she trains midwives and health providers, they make a difference in the lives of women. When women have access to contraception, they have the chance to control their own futures – and avoid life-threatening unsafe abortions.
“I know that if just one midwife or health promoter treated just one woman in a month, that woman is going to change her life, because we could help her to exercise her right to decide for her own body.”
At MSI, we’ve set a bold goal of ending unsafe abortion in five years – and providers like Bárbara are working tirelessly to make it happen. Click here to learn how we’re working to eliminate unsafe abortion.