What do you need it for?
Elizabeth was desperate that day. She must find parsley. The grocer offered her mint, and coriander but that would not do. ‘What do you need it for. Any special occasion?’, a shopkeeper finally asked. Elizabeth hurried on. She couldn’t tell the shopkeeper what she needed the parsley for. No, she could not.
Elizabeth lived in Argentina her two-year-old son. Only a few days ago, she’d found out that she was pregnant again. A news that brought her no joy. Given the family’s poor financial condition, she could not even think of another child.
Abortion is illegal in Argentina. Elizabeth knew about certain places that secretly terminate the pregnancy. But they charged a huge price. And money she did not have. So a clandestine clinic was not an option.
The clinic abortion also carried another risk. If there was a raid and she was caught having an abortion – it would have landed her in jail for four years.
She rushed through the market with thoughts running through her mind. Finally, she found a heap of parsley in the shop right at the end of the market street. She rushed home with the parsley bundle in her bag.
Later that night, Elizabeth did what many women before her have done. She inserted parsley into her vagina.
Third and final
Elizabeth’s body went into a shock. She had attempted the dangerous method to terminate her pregnancy at home. She hoped that leaf (parsley) would increase the blood flow and abort the fetus. A life-threatening self-induced abortion practice followed by desperate women around the world.
Elizabeth’s condition became unstable and she was taken to a hospital in Buenos Aires.
When the doctors learned that she had attempted to abort a fetus with parsley, they knew she suffered from septic shock and infection. They decided to remove her uterus.
She was operated upon immediately but due to lack of intensive care unit (ICU) at the hospital, the doctors kept her in the emergency room. When she showed no signs of recovery even after a day, she was transferred to another hospital, where she was admitted to ICU.
It was too late and the infection spread beyond control. Elizabeth died on August 13, 2018 – a day after her uterus was removed and two days after she tried to do a home abortion.
Elizabeth has reportedly attempted two more illegal abortions in the past.
A law that kills
Elizabeth’s death prompted anger and frustration across Argentina.
‘This never would have happened if abortion were legal,’ a representative from the Network of Health Professionals for the Right to Decide told the Argentine newspaper Clarín.
Elizabeth died only days after Argentine politicians voted against a bill to legalize abortion upto 14 weeks.
Activists across the country gathered alongside Elizabeth’s family to protest the decision.
The system as it stands
Abortion in currently allowerd in Agentina only for cases of rape, or when a mother's life or health is in danger. In all other cases, abortion is punishable by up to four years in prison.
It is estimated that more than 350,000 illegal abortions take place each year in Argentina. Many are carried out in appalling conditions, and women, mainly poor, are hospitalized and die as a result. Elizabeth was but one such woman.
The green hope
Elizabeth’s death made Argentinian activists even more determined to fight the law. The country’s movement against abortion is called ‘the green wave’.
‘Green wave’ activists argue that legal abortion doesn’t mean more women will choose to end a pregnancy. Instead, fewer women will be hospitalized or die from illegal, unsafe abortions.
It is hoped that the Elizabeths of Argentina and around the world be allowed safer methods of abortion so that they don’t put their lives at stake.
Names have been changed and the woman in picture is only for representational purposes. The woman in picture participates in a pro-abortion demonstration in downtown Buenos Aires on August 3, 2018.
Love Matters supports women’s right to choose and make decisions about their bodies. Read more about abortion and contraceptive choices on Love Matters. The introduction of the story has been dramatised. The key points in the story are true and factual. Read the original story at Clarín.