Why access to abortion and contraception can't be taken for granted in Europe
November 15, 2014
This is the final update, there is no one-year progress report.
We kicked off our reporting project on November 3 in Paris, France. Over the course of a week, we met French activists, feminists, militants from the Familial Planning, and general practitioners. We also met with gynecologists to get a sense of reproductive rights issues in France, including contraception and abortion access. We then went to Toulouse, in the south of France, to get a sense of how the situation for women is there and how views differ from those in the French capital. Toulouse was chosen, because it's close to the Spanish border, and was a major center for protests when Spain's conservative government proposed a law to severely restrict abortion in December 2013. In Toulouse, we also met with doctors, young women and those with expertise on reproductive issues. Now, we are in the process of trying to secure interviews with French politicians and anti-choice groups, to get a better-rounded sense of these issues.
Risks and challenges
In general we have had great success in meeting with a wide range of people involved in these issues. Some challenges we have experienced however include:
- Limited opportunity to make videos due to the confidential nature of hospitals, clinics, and abortion issues
- Meeting women who have had or are currently considering an abortion, due to the sensitive nature of this topic
- Difficulty setting up interviews with anti-choice activists, who express annoyance or suspicion about our project
- Challenges communicating in Spain due to our limited understanding of Spanish.
- Hajer's wallet was stolen in Paris early in the trip, and she lost all of her identification documents, money, and payment cards.
The quotes from project participants (doctors, activists, young women, etc.) aren't ready to be shared with the public yet; they will be shared once our articles are published. We plan to write a series of articles based on these interviews providing a clearer picture of reproductive rights successes, challenges and risks in both, France and Spain. Unfortunately, accompanying visuals are currently also limited since hospitals and clinics allow minimal to no access of cameras and video equipment.
We are currently in Madrid, Spain, and are setting up interviews with reproductive rights activists, politicians, doctors, and women here. Spain's attempts to severely limit abortion have failed so far, as the abortion bill was shelved in September. We will examine why the abortion bill failed, and the consequences of this failure. We will also attend a rally organized by anti-choice groups who continue to demand abortion restrictions.
Part of our project originally was to look at Spain's proposed abortion bill and the protests it triggered across Europe. During the months of fundraising, however, the Spanish bill was shelved, which has altered the angle of our project somewhat. But we are still focused on giving voice to those concerned with reproductive rights in Spain and France.
We’re shedding a journalistic light on the economics of leaving an abusive relationship.
Why we care: While much of the media coverage of the “war on women” focuses on the United States, there is a hidden attack on women's reproductive freedoms in the “more progressive” European Union.
How we’re solving this: We’re putting women across France in the spotlight to have a say on how women’s rights laws are changing in Europe. Women's eNews' reporting team will provide an on-the-ground picture of the situation in France to expose the consequences of tightening laws on reproductive rights.
This year, Spain’s government backed a proposal to severely restrict the country’s abortion laws. The move has been a wake-up call for how quickly various women's rights can disappear. The major debate and backlash in France, spurred by Spain's actions, provides a window into how restricting women's rights in one European country can have larger, wide-reaching, and long-term repercussions for all European women.
Our team will conduct extensive interviews with health care and abortion providers, women seeking reproductive health care, protesters and other women's rights activists and government officials in France and bordering Spanish towns. Our reporting will amplify the voices and opinions of women across the country, including those who support and oppose France's current attempts to change women's rights laws.
Juhie Bhatia, Women's eNews managing editor, who has done extensive reporting on health and women's issues around the world, and Hajer Naili, Women's eNews staff reporter and an international journalist focused on women's rights, will spearhead the reporting. The final multimedia project will include stories, video and photos that will increase overall coverage of this important issue, by bringing it to the mainstream media's attention and by providing a framework for a sensitive approach.
As one Women’s eNews reader, a former foreign correspondent, said, “Women’s eNews has made…dismissive treatment more or less impossible now by creating a steady drumbeat of compelling and well-researched news items about women’s situation that editors cannot ignore or dismiss as isolated cases.” Support journalism that gives women a voice.