Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Birth control

Flavio told the 16 year old high school girl working with us that watching a birth is the most effective form of birth control. He was right. Another 16 year old girl came in in labor scared shitless, and after she was settled on the birthing bed she proceeded to vomit everywhere. Covered in her own puke she started pushing, but wanted to give up after the baby's head came out screaming no puedo no puedo. Thankfully after one last push she was finished. However it was definitely not a pretty sight.

Things like this never fail to frustrate the doctors. They say they don't understand why, when IUDs, birth control pills, injections, and implants are completely free, when they go to schools to help educate the children about safe sex, why do people still have unwanted pregnancies? And why are so many girls still getting pregnant so young?

They say that the culture is at fault for some of this. According to the doctors in Puembo, some of the women want to be on birth control but because of machismo the men don't want to use condoms or for their women to be on the pill. God knows why. Others believe the word of their neighbor more than that of their doctor. For instance one woman thought that tubal ligation would give her cancer, which is completely false and unfounded.

The scary thing is that birth control isn't just for the sake of population control; putting women through unwanted pregnancies can have dangerous repercussions. Since like most of Latin America Ecuador is a Catholic country, abortion is illegal throughout. The combination of not using birth control and abortion being illegal have made illegal abortions the third most common cause of maternal mortality in this country. Which is a scary statistic. And if abortions won't be legalized anytime soon, it's time to focus our efforts on preventing unwanted pregnancies to begin with. However it's probably easy to say that with a fresh pair of eyes only looking in. After seeing the frustration of the doctors and all the work they have put into this cause, how do you know if you need to try harder, or if the people just won't change?

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