Under “natural” circumstances, the average woman would get pregnant about 15 times in her life, resulting in ten births. Seven of those babies would survive childhood.
For centuries, people have searched for ways to delay or terminate pregnancy. Today, safe and efficient means of abortion finally exist, yet women around the world continue to use ancient, illegal or risky home methods: Every year, 47,000 women around the world die due to botched abortions.
Why do they take the risk?
Across countries and religions, millions of women are blocked from abortion technologies by law and social coercion, and are forced to carry pregnancies to term against their will. Some are minors and rape victims. For many, the pregnancy is not viable or poses a health risk. But all can be criminalized for trying to abort; in El Salvador, even women suffering a miscarriage are being charged with homicide, facing prison sentences of up to 40 years.”
In violation of patient confidentiality codes, doctors and healthcare providers have been known report women seeking illegal abortions, even when abortion is medically necessary to save the patient’s life. On the other hand, anyone who helps a woman abort in a country where abortion is illegal can find themselves incarcerated. And even in countries where abortion is legal, medical staff may risk their lives to perform the operation.
This year, for the first time in history, the Pope has allowed Catholic women who’ve aborted to be forgiven. But while this may seem like a step forward, it perpetuates the stigma of guilt that surrounds women’s choices. In the meantime, politicians exploit abortion as campaign currency; making reproductive issues a political matter, rather than a question of rights.
Laia Abril’s new long-term project A History of Misogyny is a visual research undertaken through historical and contemporary comparisons. In her first chapter On Abortion Abril documents and conceptualizes the dangers and damages caused by women’s lack of legal, safe and free access to abortion. Continuing with her painstaking research methodology, Abril draws on the past to highlight the long, continuous erosion of women’s reproductive rights to present-day. Her collection of visual, audio and textual evidence weaves a net of questions about ethics and morality, and reveals a staggering series of social triggers, stigmas, and taboos around abortion that have been invisible until now.
ON ABORTION & CONTRACEPTION HISTORY
On Illegal Stories: Poland
On June 27, 2015, the Women on Waves (WoW) Abortion drone made its maiden flight from Frankfurt an der Oder in Germany, to Słubice in Poland, carrying packages of abortion pills.
Abortion is legal in nearly all EU countries, except Poland, Ireland and Malta. The official number of abortions performed in Poland, a country with 38 million inhabitants, is only about 750 per year. According to Dutch pro-choice organization Women on Waves, the real number is closer to 240,000.
Baby hatch, baby box, ruota dei trovatelli (foundling wheel) or okno zycia. These little windows can be opened from outside for mothers to deposit unwanted infants. After this, an alarm sounds to alert the nuns at the convent to take in the orphan. This system has existed in one form or another for centuries all over the world.
The United Nations is concerned at the baby box’s recent spread in Europe; in 2012, nearly 200 baby drop-off points were installed across the continent. More than 400 children have been left in European child abandonment centers since 2000.
ON ILLEGAL STORIES: Chile, Peru, Ireland
DIY Abortion methods
On Abortion: Law, God & Violence
Advertising materials for clinics that “regulate” and “fix” menstrual delays in Peru.
Abortion in Peru is illegal, except in case of a threat to the life or health of the mother. However, since 2014, 277 women have died after being denied access to abortion. Women who self-abort can be sentenced to up to two years in prison. Anyone who performs an illegal abortion can be sentenced to one to six years.
Abortion confession: 365 days of forgiveness
On November 8, 2015, the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy began. It is a one year holy period, in which Pope Francis has allowed every priest in the world be forgive the sin of abortion. St. John Paul II taught in Evangelium Vitae (paragraph 58) that abortion is “murder” and aborting women should be excommunicated.
Audio installation: Hidden audio recording of a fake confession of a real abortion and its indulgence.
Bologna, February, 2016 – Jubilee Year.