La Lucha Sigue: Lessons From Latin America’s Abortion Victories

Abortion advocates reeling from the end of Roe v. Wade can look to Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina for perspective, strategy, and hope.

Winter 2023, Bodies: In Depth

NOV 21, 2022

The abortion rights movement in the United States is in the fight of its life. Although the leaked draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization gave advance notice that Roe v. Wade would be overturned, the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision was still a devastating blow. In the months since, the situation has only become more dire for people in need of abortion care. As of October 2022, abortion is banned or severely restricted in 15 states, with 11 additional states and territories threatening to restrict or eliminate access.

As a result, people needing abortions in the U.S. are looking everywhere to find health care—including across the border.


Argentina – Abortion: a pillar of a broad pro-democracy and human rights coalition


I received Mabel Belluci’s 2014 book Historia de una desobediencia: Aborto y feminismo (History of a Disobedience: Abortion and Feminism) for Christmas four years ago. As an Argentinian reproductive justice organizer in the United States, I found their account of the abortion movement in Argentina to be a stunning product of a life within the struggle—remarkable in particular for its interest in the often messy shifts, splits, reformations, and moments of unity that go into building a movement. Reading it brought to the fore the value and potential of independent feminist historiography: of history told by us and for us, consciously situated as the continuation of a long political lineage.

I spoke with Belluci about the Argentinian abortion movement’s confrontational tactics, its path to building a broad coalition, and the lessons for Argentinian feminists in the broad rollback of abortion rights in the US. -  Camila Valle.


Having Won the Right to Abortion, Colombian Activists Are Pressing Health Facilities to Deliver

In February, Colombia introduced one of the most liberal abortion laws in the world after activists took to the courts – but now their challenge lies in ensuring the health system is in a position to offer terminations.

Juanita Rico

Not long ago, abortion in Colombia was a taboo topic that could not be mentioned during dinners or family gatherings, according to Florence Thomas, one of Colombia’s feminism most influential voices.

“It was considered such a difficult subject that people would stand up and leave my lectures when I touched upon it,” Thomas told Health Policy Watch.


Mexican, Colombian Supreme Court Justices Discuss Path to Abortion Rights at Petrie-Flom Center Forum

By Julian J. Giordano, Asher J. Montgomery
Oct 24, 2022

Supreme Court justices from Mexico and Colombia, Alfredo Guitérrez Oritz Mena and Natalia Ángel Cabo, discussed abortion rights in their respective countries at a panel hosted on Friday by the Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School.

The panelists discussed decisions issued by the Supreme Courts of both Mexico and Colombia in the last two years that expanded abortion access. In September 2021, the Supreme Court in Mexico ruled in September 2021 that it is unconstitutional to punish abortion as a crime. Colombia’s top court issued a ruling in February that legalized abortion during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.


The Fight for Abortion and Reproductive Justice after Roe


Spectre Journal (USA) recently hosted an event for donors about global lessons for the struggle for abortion rights and reproductive justice after the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. The panel included Camila Valle, Sherry Wolf, Emily Janakiram, and Holly Lewis. This is an edited transcript of their speeches and wrap ups after the discussion.

Camila Valle: I know people are probably thinking about what just happened to our right to abortion and reproductive healthcare in the US, which other speakers will go into tonight, but I wanted to start with a historic victory in a different part of the world: that of the Argentinian abortion movement, which won legalization at the end of 2020—and not just legalization, but free abortion as part of their socialized healthcare system.


More than 25 NGOs intensify their fight to legalize abortion in Venezuela

by Lance Vaughn 
September 10, 2022

Some 25 Venezuelan NGOs, grouped in the Ruta Verde platform, intensify their fight to legalize abortion with the collection against the clock of 21,000 signatures that must be attached to the bill on sexual and reproductive rights that they will take to Parliament, which will have to debate if it advances until become normative.

The platform intends for there to be a sexual and reproductive education that provides knowledge about contraceptive methods, abortion in different cases and the options that women have to face unwanted pregnancies.


US can learn from Latin America’s abortion laws post Roe v. Wade, experts say

Despite strict laws, activists point to a number of legal wins in recent years.

By Aicha El Hammar Castano and Guy Davies
August 28, 2022

Fabiana*, 24, was pregnant with her second child in Rio de Janeiro, and, like thousands of other Brazilian women, knew she could not rely on the health care system.

"It was just too much for me," she told ABC News. "I just couldn't handle that. I don't want to become like many women with many kids."


What is the Geneva Consensus, the anti-abortion group from which Colombia withdrew

Currently, more than 30 countries are part of this agreement. Colombia had joined since May 2022

By Nick Quaz
August 23, 2022

The Vice Ministry of Multilateral Affairs of the Foreign Ministry announced this Monday through a statement that the Colombian government officially withdrew from the 'Declaration of the Geneva Consensus', a group of nations that expressly opposed abortion.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hereby informs that the Government of Colombia has decided to rescind its adherence to the Geneva Consensus Declaration as of the date of this communication,” the Foreign Ministry said in a letter.


Inside Brazil’s Abortion Pill Black Market

In a country where one woman dies every two days from a botched abortion, the internet is sometimes the only option.

By Leonardo Coelho, a Brazilian journalist based in Rio de Janeiro.
JULY 8, 2022

Under a run-of-the-mill news clip posted on YouTube in 2012 covering Brazil’s online black market of abortion pills, something strange has happened in the comments section. Even though the video is a decade old, the comments—now totaling more than 68,000—continue to pile up every day.

Nearly all the new comments appear to be from female users with phone numbers in their usernames. Although it’s not entirely clear who these users are, they seem to be promoting mysterious individuals with names like Alice and Maísa who can provide “Cyto.”


What the U.S. can learn from abortion rights wins in Latin America

July 7, 2022
Ailsa Chang, Jonaki Mehta, Justine Kenin
6-Minute Listen, with transcript

Maria Antonieta Alcalde is the director of IPAs in Central America and Mexico, an organization that promotes safe and legal abortion access around the world. She joined All Things Considered to share perspectives from her own work, and to give insight on what the movement in the U.S. could do next.