Antigua and Barbuda
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Abortion, illegal but prevalent in Antigua and Barbuda

by LOOP:

Buying milk from a neighbourhood shop that’s how easy it is to obtain abortion pills in Antigua despite it still being ‘on the books.’

All you need to know is where and how much and that information is not difficult to obtain in such a small country.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a few women shared their experiences.

“I had one last year and I never had any problems. I just paid the pharmacist and got it,” a 19-year-old told Loop Caribbean.

Another woman,23, who said has never gotten pregnant, said she was told exactly how to get the pill by a close friend.

“From what my friend told me; I didn’t even believe that it is still illegal.”

One woman, 36, who has had two abortions in her lifetime; one as recent as two years ago, explained the procedure to obtain the illegal pill.

Speaking specifically about her most recent experience she said: “the buying part is as easy as 1 2 3.”

“You simply go to one of the pharmacies that sell them and walk straight to the pharmacist and ask for it. The pharmacist will ask you how far along you are because you shouldn’t take it if you are more than 10 weeks.

“I was 9 weeks because I was still considering whether to do it or not.  The pharmacist may ask you other questions too like if you’ve ever done an abortion before but once everything is fine you will be given another pill to purchase such as painkillers and when you go back to the pharmacist to collect it, he will give you the abortion pills and explain what to do and you pay $350 plus whatever you paid for the painkillers.”

The woman said that there is nothing to fear when conducting the transaction. “You won’t be side-eyed or anything,” she said.

She went on to disclose that you are given four small tablets that you must insert vaginally.

Based on what she shared, it is at this juncture, that the difficult part begins.

The mother of three said that after some time passed after taking the pill, she started to feel pains similar to contractions.

“…my entire bed was wet. My water broke or so it felt.”

“Soon after I felt the urge to run to the bathroom and as soon as I sat on the toilet something came out and when I checked it looked like pieces of a fetus. I bled for a few days after that.”

But according to her, “even the physical pain is nothing compared to the emotional pain you feel when having to get rid of a child.”

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Now, despite the accessibility of the pill, the subject is still taboo across many sections of society.

That coupled with the cost, force some women to try more ‘traditional’ methods such as drinking hot Guinness or neem bush; techniques which are not proven to be effective.

Public discussions surrounding the matter indicate that many are ready for the law to be repealed.

And according to Antigua’s Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin, the government is open to having consultations “at the appropriate time.”

He said: “It is intended to have some public discussions on that matter and then make a determination as to where we go from there.”

Benjamin however said he is in support of making some changes.

“There are many persons that are of the view and I share that particular view that abortions are to be given in special circumstances for example, where the health of the mother is concerned or whether the pregnancy is as a result of an act of violence such as rape and other matters like that,” he shared.

Antigua and Barbuda’s current legislation – unchanged since the 19th century – cites a sentence of up to 10 years for any woman who “procures her own miscarriage”. CLICK HERE TO JOIN WHAT’S APP GROUP.

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