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« On Abortion », a clinical dive into the horror of clandestine abortions of yesterday and today

In images, in picturesInstruments as disturbing as they are dangerous and tens of thousands of lives lost. It is to document the violence caused by the lack of access to abortion that the photographer Laia Abril undertook her series “On Abortion”. Because, if legislation has progressed in recent years, the Supreme Court of the United States could soon challenge this right of women.

They are objects from the past, but of burning relevance. In  » On Abortion », an exhibition that has been traveling the world since 2016, Spanish artist Laia Abril highlights the dangers of abortions performed outside the legal framework. To illustrate this sad reality, the 30-year-old chose a clinical description, both for the objects she shows and for the texts that accompany them. The sepia color of his photos does not prevent one from feeling the coldness of the sharp metal of this panoply of instruments that were used to perform clandestine abortions throughout the 19th century.e and XXe centuries.

“Forceps and specula open the cervix (…). Pointed and sharp instruments, such as the urinary catheter, were used to clean the uterus, as were misappropriated household objects, such as coat hangers,” says Laia Abril in the caption. And to recall the extreme danger of such tools « due to the high risk of perforation of other organs, the bladder and the intestine in particular ». Just look carefully at this other shot representing a sagittal section of a woman’s pelvis into which a knitting needle has been inserted through the vagina. An ancestral method and “potentially deadly”he is reminded.

“My idea was to respond to those who call themselves ‘pro-life’ and who should be concerned about the death of these women because they did not have access to safe abortion. »Laia Abril, artist

On Abortion is the first chapter ofA History of Misogyny, a long-term work carried out by this feminist artist, who has also looked into sexuality or eating disorders. She made a book out of it called On Abortion: And the Repercussions of Lack of Access (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2018, untranslated).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 73 million voluntary terminations of pregnancy take place each year in the world. About 45% of them are practiced in unsanitary conditions – almost all of them in developing countries. This is one of the main preventable causes of maternal deaths.

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Performed within a legal and medical framework, abortion is nevertheless a common and risk-free procedure. “While researching the subject, I came across this figure of 47,000 women who died in the world in one year because they had not had access to an abortion in good conditions, reports Laia Abril, based in Barcelona. I was very shocked. So I decided to visually show the repercussions of the lack of access to abortion, when women end up in prison, when they are forced to be mothers, when they have been raped and when they are coerced to carry their pregnancy to term, when they have sequelae or when they die following a clandestine abortion. My idea was to respond to those who call themselves “pro-life” and who should care about the death of these women. »

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