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Venezuelan Women Lose Access to Contraception, and Control of Their Lives

Not all abortions with misoprostol are this painful or risky. Doctors recommend that women take misoprostol with another drug, mifepristone, which prepares the body for the process, making the procedure easier.

But mifepristone is difficult to find in Venezuela, and so most women do it the hard way.

When Jessika came to, her friends urged her to go to the hospital.

“Don’t take me anywhere,” she said.

She was terrified of the police.

Afterward, she spent weeks replaying the events of the night.

“You say to yourself, ‘Well, this happened, but it could have been worse. It could have gone differently. I could have died in the process, but I didn’t, and it’s OK,’” she said.

“But it’s not OK,” she went on.

“It’s not OK that I had to have an abortion in a warehouse. It’s not OK that I passed out, that I became depressed, it’s not OK that I feel the way I do,” she said, words tumbling out in anger. “It’s not OK that the country pushes you into this desperation, that all it does it close its doors to you. I am resilient, yes. But at some point, all of us get tired. And I am tired. I am so tired.”

In the absence of other help, a few nonprofit organizations have become critical resources for women, offering low-cost or free contraception. Most are supported by international funds.

At the five clinics run by one of those organizations, Plafam, the waiting rooms are always packed. Women sometimes sleep outside, desperate to be among those who receive free birth control implants on distribution days.


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