As Venezuela Reels, Women Turn to Sterilization

With condoms and other methods in short supply, women have few choices
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2016 4:12 PM CDT
As Venezuela Reels, Women Turn to Sterilization
Madeley Vasquez, 16, breast feeds her one-year-old son Joangel as she waits in line outside a supermarket to buy food in Caracas, Venezuela.    (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

(Newser) – Add another problem to the catastrophe gripping Venezuela: women opting to sterilize themselves rather than bring a new life into the chaos. No government statistics on sterilization are available, but a social worker tells Reuters she sees up to five women a day who seek to undergo a tubal ligation. One health program's 40-slot "sterilization days" historically wasn't at capacity; now the waiting list is 500-strong. The skyrocketing cost of hard-to-find contraceptives is at the root. In a March report on the country's severe food shortages, Vice explains that there are "two prices for everything" in the country: the government price (which requires hours of waiting in line, and no guarantee it'll be in stock) and the black market price, which is often 10 times higher.

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Bloomberg reported contraceptives started getting tough to find in December 2014. Vice's reporter went to a dozen pharmacies and found no condoms; women tell Reuters birth control pills are similarly absent, even on the black market. Reuters reports that when a pharmacy has a 3-pack of condoms in stock, it costs roughly 600 bolivars; the current monthly minimum wage (a combination of money and a food ticket) is about 33,000 bolivars. For ordinary Venezuelans, those prices are out of reach, and with abortion illegal except to save a mother's life, there are few options. A 38-year-old mother tells Reuters that a pregnancy announcement used to be joyous news. "Now when a woman says 'I'm pregnant', everyone scolds you. It makes me sad for young women." (The fastest-growing birth control method isn't the pill.)

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