Around the world, 20 million women stop their pregnancies every year in very dangerous conditions because of the clandestinity they are forced into . Barriers to access safe abortion are numerous: social resistance, restrictive laws, family pressure, reluctance of the medical profession. On an original project by photographer Laia Abril, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) presents an adaptation of On Abortion (Rencontres d’Arles 2016), an installation composed of real objects, photographs and sound recordings collected on different continents. Enriched with testimonials collected by MSF caregivers, it questions the visitor and brings to light a striking series of social triggers, stigmas and taboos around abortion.
Laia Abril / Médecins Sans Frontières – On Abortion, a Universal Vulnerability
November 22 – December 9
House of Steelworkers
94 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud
1st image :
On February 2015, a 19-year-old pregnant woman ingested abortive pills in São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil. She started feeling abdominal pains, so her aunt took her to hospital. After she was treated, her doctor called the police, saying he would autopsy the fetus if she did not confess to trying to abort. She was handcuffed to her hospital bed, and freed only after paying a 250€ bail.Denunciation by doctors is not uncommon in Brazil, Peru or El Salvador. Women who are reported for attempting abortion can be detained in hospitals for weeks or months. Many doctors claim they are legally required to notify authorities when they suspect an abortion, in contradiction of professional codes of doctor-patient confidentiality.
2nd image :
In the picture a set of household abortion tools. In places where abortion is illegal, certain medical instruments can be a giveaway. For this reason, specific supplies have rarely been developed or sold for this procedure. Instead, doctors, back-street abortionists and pregnant women turn to common household tools: knitting needles, wire clothes hangers, urinary catheters and a wide variety of other objects long enough to reach into the uterus. In the history of coercive reproduction, before the legalization of abortion – and currently in the countries were it remains illegal; was dominated for centuries by restrictive laws, based on demographic and religious agendas. Due to lack of alternatives, women were forced to apply dangerous methods for ending pregnancy, facing serious physical damage or even death. Both safe and very effective methods were only developed in the middle of the last century. The lives and the survival rate of women have thereby greatly improved. Museum of contraception and Abortion, Vienna, Austria, 2015.