A new story published on the Humans of New York blog unearths the bleak horror of illegal abortions, as faced by an 18-year-old woman living in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The post, illustrated by the anonymous woman’s hands and feet as she sits alone in a park, has generated a huge amount of attention thanks to its frank and heartbreaking narrative.
Humans of New York publishes photographs, interviews, and stories collected on the streets of NYC, and is currently working on a new project based in the Argentinian capital.
Sharing her story with the photographer, the woman explains that she had very few options available to her when she fell pregnant as a teenager.
“I didn’t want to be a mother,” she says. “We weren’t in love. I had goals I wanted to accomplish.”
Desperate to take back control over her own body and future, the young woman decided that her only option was to terminate the pregnancy. But, with abortion illegal in Argentina (except in cases of rape or when a woman's health is in danger), she was forced to turn to an extreme and dangerous method of terminating the pregnancy herself.
“I made the hardest decision of my life,” she says, adding: “I researched it on the Internet. I did it myself. In my room.”
The young woman continues: “If things had gone wrong, I could have died.
“Seeing it come out of me was the worst moment of my life. And I couldn’t tell anyone. Not even my parents. So I carried the secret with me.
“I felt like this thing was always in my chest, but it was stuck there. All day I’d act normal. Then at night I’d go to my room and cry.”
Her story has sparked an outcry, with hundreds of Instagram users insisting that its stories like these which prove abortion needs to be legalised.
“When you ban abortions, they don’t stop happening,” wrote one. “They just become dangerous.”
Another added: “I am personally pro-life, because I believe babies are gifts from God and my heasrt tells me their lives deserve a chance. [But] As a voter, I am pro-choice because I don’t want to live in a country governed by religion, and I wholeheartedly believe that making abortions illegal only ends safe abortions.”
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 21.6 million women experience unsafe abortions every year — with some 500,000 of these performed in Argentina alone.
These procedures are usually carried out in bleak and unsanitary conditions, which means that, each year, almost 80,000 Argentinian women are hospitalised due to post-procedure complications. Botched abortions are the leading cause of maternal death in the predominately Roman Catholic country – and, across the world, it is thought that at least 47,000 women die each year due to complications from unsafe abortions.
Now abortion rights have now been thrown even further into jeopardy by President Donald Trump’s global gag order, which bans US-funded groups around the world from providing – or even talking to women about – safe abortions.
“The global gag rule has been associated with an increase in unsafe abortions and we expect that Trump’s global gag rule will cost women their lives.”