Since 1991--the year Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori devoted to "family planning"--Peru has instituted several programs to curb teen pregnancy and maternal mortality. "Peruvian women must be in control of their own destiny," Fujimori claimed. Yet for Marina Machaca, who charged that she was raped by a doctor at a public health facility in 1996, it has taken four years to gain control--and justice.
Machaca had gone to a clinic with a headache and fever, but there, she says, her doctor, Gerardo Salm-n Horna, drugged and raped her. Machaca pressed charges, but Horna was acquitted. Researchers at the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP) and the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women's Rights (CLADEM) learned of her case while preparing Silence and Complicity, a first-of-its-kind report on violence against women in Peruvian public health facilities, which was published in 1998. They took her case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which, in October, forced the government to pay reparations to Machaca and improve the treatment of rape victims. At press time, activists from CRLP had joined CLADEM representatives in Peru to further negotiate the settlement.
Silence and Complicity contains frightening testimonies from women and girls that reveal patterns of verbal, psychological, and physical violence. It documents rapes of gynecological patients, the medical neglect and legal prosecution of women suspected of having had an abortion, and verbal attacks on unmarried women seeking reproductive services. Researchers also found that many health care workers believe that pregnant or sexually active women deserve pain and suffering.
CLADEM published a separate study last year that documented sterilization quotas targeting poor, rural women. The quotas were instituted by Fujimori the very year he began championing reproductive rights.
"The government's reaction has been to blame a few 'zealous' health workers," says Jo-Marie Burt of the North American Congress on Latin America, a U.S.-based research organization, "and deny that it was official policy." But activists aren't buying it. "They're holding the government accountable," says CRLP's Kathy Hall Martinez.
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .