In Haiti, abortion could be legalised, according to Marie Giselhaine Mompremier, Minister for the Status of Women, who defends the new penal code, published 24 June 2020, because it allows voluntary termination of pregnancy under certain conditions. The right of Haitian women to voluntarily terminate a pregnancy is implicitly recognised by the new penal code, she says, but it still carries criminal penalties outside certain conditions. “There is no offence if the pregnancy is the product of rape or incest, or when the physical or mental health of the woman is at stake” underlining that “all abortions must be performed with the consent of the woman, in a medical facility and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, under penalty of 5 to 7 years in prison and heavy fines”.
There are critical gaps in the provision of post-abortion care at all facilities that offer delivery services. In seven (70%) of ten countries, less than 10% of primary-level facilities could provide basic post-abortion care, and in eight (80%) of ten countries less than 40% of referral-level facilities could provide comprehensive post-abortion care. In no country could all referral facilities provide all the essential services that need to be included in basic post-abortion care.
Among the focus groups, there was widespread knowledge of misoprostol self-managed abortion. Women described use of multiple agents in combination with misoprostol. Men played key roles in abortion decision-making and in accessing misoprostol.
Awareness of methods to induce abortion is high among women in urban Haiti and appears widely practised; yet knowledge of the safest self-managed abortion options remains incomplete. Access to safer abortion services could improve maternal health in Haiti.
In Haiti, one woman in seven has an abortion in the course of her lifetime. Yet abortion remains illegal in this country, where access to contraception is also very limited. To put an end to an unwanted pregnancy, clandestine abortion is the only remedy.