Latin America’s fight to legalise abortion: the key battlegrounds

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Latin America's fight to legalise abortion: the key battlegrounds
After Argentina rejected a bill to allow abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, hopes of reform now rest elsewhere

Annie Kelly
Thu 9 Aug 2018

An estimated 6.5 million abortions take place across Latin America each year. Three-quarters of these procedures are unlawful, often performed in unsafe illegal clinics or at home.

Of 33 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean, only Cuba, Uruguay and Guyana permit elective abortions. Women also have the right to choose in Mexico City. Elsewhere, however, the right to an abortion is severely restricted, with terminations often permitted in cases of rape, or if the pregnancy will endanger the life of the mother. Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Suriname all have a complete ban on abortion.

Continued: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/aug/09/latin-america-fight-to-legalise-abortion-argentina-brazil-chile-venezuela-uruguay-colombia-el-salvador-peru

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“You have to keep fighting”: Uruguayan Feminists Work to Build on their Gains

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“You have to keep fighting”: Uruguayan Feminists Work to Build on their Gains

Aug 2, 2018

"For us, the issues of women’s bodies, their freedom, their autonomy is a big part of the struggle for women’s empowerment and emancipation in a patriarchal system." — Lilian Abracinskas, Mujer y Salud en Uruguay

For women in many Latin American countries, the small nation of Uruguay might seem like the country that could. After years of organizing and education by a determined feminist movement and its allies, Uruguayan women have made important gains in sexual and reproductive health and rights, including a law passed in 2012 that provides for legal abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Yet the feminist movement here knows well that any wins must be constantly defended, and progress only comes after tremendous effort.

Founded in 1996, Global Fund for Women grantee partner Mujer y Salud has been at the forefront of this movement, carefully devising a strategy of alliances that led to the victory. But one thing its members know is that sexual and reproductive rights aren’t just guaranteed on paper, and that laws—no matter how progressive they are—are a starting point, not an end, when it comes to assuring that all women can exercise control over their bodies and their lives.

Continued: https://www.globalfundforwomen.org/mujer-y-salud/#.W2ScqdUzbcu

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How ‘conscientious objectors’ threaten women’s newly-won abortion rights in Latin America

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How ‘conscientious objectors’ threaten women’s newly-won abortion rights in Latin America
From Uruguay to Chile, medical staff are refusing to provide abortion services even after their legalisation.

Diana Cariboni
18 July 2018

Women’s rights to legal abortion have increased in Latin America – but so have campaigns and policies for medical staff to be able to ‘conscientiously object’ and refuse to participate in these procedures.

“We didn’t see it coming,” said feminist activist Lilián Abracinskas in Uruguay, a secular country where abortion, same-sex marriage and the marijuana market were each legalised in the last decade.

Continued: https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/diana-cariboni/conscientious-objectors-threaten-abortion-rights-latin-america

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Expert group denounces the refusal to treat under ‘conscientious objection’

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Expert group denounces the refusal to treat under 'conscientious objection'

Joyce Arthur
July 5, 2018

For the first time ever, an expert group has arrived at a majority consensus that the practice of so-called "conscientious objection" by health-care professionals should not be allowed. The experts agreed that the practice of refusing to provide legal and essential health care due to a doctor's personal or religious beliefs is a violation of medical ethics and of patients' right to health care. Abortion and other reproductive health care are the most commonly refused services.

Unconscionable: When Providers Deny Abortion Care is the title of the expert group's just-released report with recommendations. It is a product of the first global meeting on the topic of "conscientious objection," which took place in Montevideo, Uruguay in August 2017 because the refusal to treat is a major barrier to abortion access in many Latin American countries.

Continued: http://rabble.ca/columnists/2018/07/expert-group-denounces-refusal-treat-under-conscientious-objection

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Unconscionable: When Providers Deny Abortion Care

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Unconscionable: When Providers Deny Abortion Care

June 19, 2018
Click here to download the report [PDF]

The global women’s movement has fought for many years to affirm safe and legal abortion as a fundamental right, and the global trend has been the liberalization of abortion laws. Progress is not linear, however, and persistent barriers prevent these laws and policies from increasing women’s access to services. One such obstacle is the growing use of conscience claims to justify refusal of abortion care.

Often called “conscientious objection,” a concept historically associated with the right to refuse to take part in the military or in warfare on religious or moral grounds, the term has recently been co-opted by anti-choice movements. Indeed, accommodations for health care providers to refuse to provide care are often deliberately inserted into policies with the aim of negating the hard-fought right to abortion care.

Existing evidence reveals a worrisome and growing global trend of health care providers who are refusing to deliver abortion and other sexual and reproductive health care. This phenomenon violates the ethical principle of “do no harm,” and has grave consequences for women, especially those who are already more vulnerable and marginalized.

Continued: https://iwhc.org/resources/unconscionable-when-providers-deny-abortion-care/

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Latin America lagging behind on women’s rights

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Latin America lagging behind on women’s rights

By Hugo Sánchez and Julia R. Arévalo
euroefe.es | translated by Freya Kirk
Feb 19, 2018

Imprisoned for having an abortion, forced to keep a child born out of rape, pushed to commit suicide: women still pay a heavy price in Latin America, where several countries’ legislation greatly restricts abortion. EURACTIV’s partner Euroefe reports.

Women’s rights in South America were the main issue during a conference before the 10th Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (EUROLAT), held last September in El Salvador. El Salvador is now ranked as the most violent country in the world, mainly due to gang activities.

Continued: https://www.euractiv.com/section/development-policy/news/latin-america-lagging-behind-on-womens-rights/

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Abortion Rights in Cuba Face New Challenges

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Abortion Rights in Cuba Face New Challenges
September 4, 2017

In 2016, 85,445 abortions were carried out among women aged 12-49 years old, which represents 41.9 interrupted pregnancies per 100 pregnant women.

By Ivet Gonzalez (IPS Cuba)

HAVANA TIMES — When it seemed like an issue resolved in Cuban society, feminist activists and experts are apprehensive about the latest public outbreaks of anti-abortion discourse, which condemn this practice in a country where abortion has been safe and free for over half a century.

Continued at source: Havana Times: http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=127066

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The Discussion on Conscientious Objection

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The Discussion on Conscientious Objection

Posted on August 10, 2017 by Nomtika

All roads led to Uruguay last week, between July 31st and August 4th, as 5 SRJC members took to Montevideo for the International Convention on Conscientious Objection.

The meeting, co-hosted by Mujer y Salud en Uruguay (MYSU) and the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), featured policymakers, academics, health professionals, legal experts, and feminist activists who collectively established that objecting to the provision of voluntary abortion services on religious or moral grounds, is a chief barrier to safe abortion and endangers the lives of women.

Continued at source: Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition: http://srjc.org.za/2017/08/10/the-discussion-on-conscientious-objection/

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Global Experts Prioritize Tackling Conscientious Objection to Abortion

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Global Experts Prioritize Tackling Conscientious Objection to Abortion
Montevideo, August 4, 2017

Fifty experts from 20 countries in Africa, the Americas and Europe, gathered at the first international convening on conscientious objection to abortion have concluded that the refusal to provide legal abortion services is hurting women all over the world and must be tackled.

The meeting, co-hosted by Mujer y Salud en Uruguay (MYSU) and the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), featured policymakers, academics, health professionals, legal experts, and feminist activists who collectively established that objecting to the provision of voluntary abortion services on religious or moral grounds, is a chief barrier to safe abortion and endangers the lives of women.

Continued at source: Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition: http://srjc.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Uruguay-English-Declaration.pdf

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Uruguay Solidarity Request: Please sign statement calling for release of young woman in prison for miscarriage

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Uruguay Solidarity Request

by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion, April 7, 2017

Statement: A court has put a young woman in prison for miscarriage

by Mujer y Salud en Uruguay (MYSU), 4 April 2017
PLEASE SIGN THIS STATEMENT CALLING FOR HER RELEASE

A young woman has this week been sentenced to a term in prison for homicide in the city of Rivera in Uruguay. She gave birth in the bathroom of her house unaware that she was even pregnant. She was accused of manslaughter, which the judge, Darwin Rampoldi, used to sentence her for having “aborted” the pregnancy.

This is the second time this year that the Uruguayan justice system has been responsible for a blatant injustice, void of any gender perspective. The circumstances, as narrated in the judgment, are masterfully misogynistic.

Before she was even taken to court, however, the young woman had been judged and condemned by the health professionals who attended her in the Public Hospital. The initial diagnosis was of “abortion” followed by a series of gynaecological examinations that determined that she had given birth. She was then taken to the maternity ward, and only six hours after admission, a doctor thought to ask: “Where is the baby?”.

In the trial, there were testimonies from doctors, neighbours and relatives. In her own words, the young woman told the court that she had felt a strong pain, but had had no idea that she was pregnant. She told her partner that she thought it could be ovarian pain, but that she wasn’t going to go to the doctor because “they will laugh at me”.

This is not the first time that a woman has been criminally prosecuted in Uruguay under these circumstances. Yet no State institution has intervened to prevent and address these unfortunate situations. Instead, the Penal Code is invoked, and women are put on trial and sent to jail without justification.
We call on the Judiciary to ensure that its members receive regular training in human rights issues as well as greater awareness of the use of legal processes so as to ensure gender justice. We also call on the Judiciary to monitor the performance of judges in invoking the criminal law in such cases. We believe an analysis of such judgments would provide an account of the extent of gender bias and prejudice in judicial rulings, and expose the extent to which they reinforce gender stereotypes and biased social values – such as those which assume that a woman who has an unexpected pregnancy and gives birth in very precarious conditions must have murdered a baby.

We also denounce the attitude and intervention of those health professionals who, instead of attending to a woman who found herself in this situation, mistreated, belittled and judged her. Health professionals are neither judges nor police officers; their role is not to condemn but to ensure the highest quality of care for the patient who requires it, regardless of her socioeconomic class and educational level, let alone her “motives”.

We demand the immediate release of this young woman and the effective intervention of all the State institutions that are involved, to ensure her release.

TO SIGN THIS STATEMENT, PLEASE SEND YOUR GROUP/NAME, POSITION, CITY, COUNTRY, TO: mysu@mysu.org.uy
COMUNICADO EN ESPAÑOL: http://www.mysu.org.uy/multimedia/noticia/comunicado-ante-procesamiento-con-prision-de-mujer-en-rivera/ ;

Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion:
http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/uruguay-solidarity-request/

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