With No Access to Food or Contraception, Venezuelan Women Are Choosing Sterilization

birth controlAs the growing threats of famine and the diminishing supply of medicines in Venezuela put the country’s citizens in a dangerous position, more and more women are forced to abandon their dreams of motherhood.

“Before, when you got pregnant, everyone was happy,” said Yessy Ascanio, 38. “Now when a woman says ‘I’m pregnant,’ everyone scolds you.”

Another woman at the Miranda state clinic near Caracas told Reuters, “Having a child now means making him suffer.”

Venezuelan government officials announced that the nation ran out of its supply of birth control back in July 2015. In fact, the South American country has run out of nearly all medicines, including common painkillers, cancer treatments, and HIV drugs. Doctors are now resorting to treating human patients with veterinary medications.

Contraceptives are difficult to obtain. As a result, the lack of available birth control has caused a staggering increase in the rate of teenage pregnancies across Venezuela.

To avoid unwanted pregnancies, women are resorting to sterilization as the only affordable alternative. The Miranda clinic holds “sterilization days,” for which they have a waiting list of over 500 women.

Being pregnant in Venezuela can be a traumatizing experience. For instance, one hospital had no choice but to treat pregnant women out on the street last month after its air conditioning system broke down and temperatures in the facility rose to dangerous levels.

Because of the presence of the mosquito species that carries the Zika virus, women in Venezuela must be especially careful. Back in February, officials estimated that there were roughly 400,000 Zika cases in the country.

Rather than wait until menopause — the stage at which a woman is no longer fertile, marked by her final period — Venezuelan women are choosing to sterilize at a much younger age. In a country where basic food items are extremely scare and families are forced to stand in lines for up to eight hours to receive rations, women cannot bear to allow more children to go hungry.