Guest Author - Suzanne Gregory
Yaribely Almonte, 20 was charged last week with self abortion in the first degree, a misdemeanor charge that has been used only four times in New York State in the last thirty years.
The first degree charge applies to cases in which the fetus was at a gestation of 24 weeks or more, requiring a doctor to perform the abortion. Abortions in New York are only legal at this stage when the pregnancy poses a life risk to the mother.
The superintendent of the Washington Heights building Almonte lived in, found the seven inch long dead fetus, wrapped in plastic and disposed of in a bucket in a trash bin. The fetus, a boy, still had the umbilical cord attached.
Almonte drank an herbal concoction to induce the abortion, though it is not yet known what the drink had in it. Herbal teas to induce abortion have long been known and tried by women seeking to end their pregnancies. Such remedies have been somewhat common in Mexico and other parts of Latin America in recent years.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that each year nearly 42 million women faced with unintended pregnancies have abortions, of which 20 million are unsafe. Most of them take place in countries where abortion is illegal. An estimated 21.6 million unsafe abortions took place worldwide in 2008, almost all in developing countries. The unsafe abortion rate remains unchanged at about 14 unsafe abortions per 1000 women aged 15–44 years.
Thirty-nine states make it illegal for anyone other than a medical provider to perform an abortion.
Andrea Miller, president of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, called the criminal case "deeply troubling."
"They have taken what should be a medical and public health matter and turned it into a criminal case," Ms. Miller said.
Almonte was released from jail and is scheduled to return to court on January 3. If convicted, she could be sentenced to a year in jail.
Let's hope the charges are dropped and this woman is allowed to go back home to the one child she already has.