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Posted by: Every Mother Counts   |   4/20/2011   |  

Linda Valencia - Guatemala



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In Guatemala in 2009 we met Linda, a 37 year old OB-GYN who is the Country Representative for PPFA. She treats women who otherwise don't have access to reproductive health care, and who was eight months pregnant herself. In addition to family planning and general obstetrics, Linda does post-abortion care, which is controversial in a country that has such strict anti-abortion laws. Every year in Guatemala there are approximately 6,000 abortions preformed in risky conditions, endangering the lives of countless women. The stigma surrounding abortions is so great that women refuse to admit they have had one, even when they're on the verge of death.
Linda told us, "People are not sensitive to it because they think that maternal death is natural. Because they don't know the tragedy that the death of a woman causes within a family. because they think that maternity is the only and main function for a woman in this world, and if they died for the sake of giving birth to a child, it's natural and even heroic. Maternity in this country isn't perceived as a choice but as an obligation for a woman to have children. So they don't give it any importance. They have made the idea of maternal death natural."
Today Linda is still living in Guatemala City with her two children, and continues to work as an advocate of maternal health. She explains, "Its a social profession. believe in a way my profession comes really close to the human condition, which in turn makes you sensitive to these difficult issues. And in my case, it is women's issues. I think I could earn more doing something else, but I don't know how I would feel as a human being, whether I would be totally satisfied with what I do."