QUITO, ECUADOR – Las Comadres—which loosely translates as The Godmothers, or “a very close friend”—is a feminist group fighting back against the nation’s restrictive abortion laws. Members accompany women through their abortion procedures and provide them with medical and legal information. Last weekend, they ran their first national workshop walking women through the process.
The two-day abortion accompaniment workshop focused on these legal, medical and psychological issues women may face, and how to be prepared for them. According to the women in Las Comadres, the most important part of the process is to be able to inform women of the possible medical side effects, and of their legal rights with confidence, since it’s fear of the unknown that is the worst side effect for women in these circumstances.
Over 45 women from across the country traveled to the capital, Quito, for the two-day abortion accompaniment workshop. They voiced questions and concerns from cases that they’ve already seen happening around them: What happens when a young woman’s own mother reports her for having an abortion? What happens if a woman asks a doctor about her options, and he simply tells her “you will die if you abort?” What happens if a pharmacist asks for your doctor’s phone number so they can call and ask why they are prescribing these particular medications?
Regardless of race, social class or education level, “woman will abort,” said Daniela Alvarado, a long time member of Las Comadres. “But the women who die, who have obstetric complications, who are confronted with insecure procedures, it’s because they’re more alone, in some way more excluded, or poor.”
According to Ana Vera, a lawyer with Las Comadres, 249 women have been charged with illegal abortion since 2013, while the vast majority of these cases were reported to police by doctors after women went into the hospital with complications.