JOURNAL ARTICLE

With everything exposed: cruelty in post-abortion care in Rosario, Argentina

Cynthia Steele, Susana Chiarotti
Reproductive Health Matters 2004, 12 (24 Suppl): 39-46
15938156
At the suggestion of a social worker who witnessed abusive post-abortion care at a public hospital in Rosario, Argentina, two human rights NGOs collaborated to investigate women's experiences seeking treatment for abortion complications at area public hospitals. During the year-long enquiry, more than 300 women took part. Role play was successfully used to surmount women's initial reluctance to reveal pervasive discriminatory and humiliating mistreatment. Thirty-one women later gave personal testimonies about their experiences, which were contained in the report of the research and later dramatised in a public meeting and video. The report, Con Todo al Aire (With Everything Exposed), was disseminated widely, including to the media, and a formal complaint was made to the local Ombudsman, who called for high-level action to resolve the problems. Initial denial by some health professionals that there was a serious problem was replaced by critical self-assessment within the provincial government, hospitals and medical and nursing schools, who made commitments to reform hospital practices and the medical school curriculum. Women participants also gained an understanding of their right to appropriate and humane health care. The findings from Rosario are not isolated. They are now being shored with activists and researchers in other provinces of Argentina and other countries.

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