Latin American feminists vow to continue fight for abortion rights in 2023

Sexual and reproductive rights activists in the region say ‘our struggle continues’ to maintain progress so far

Angelina De Los Santos, OpenDemocracy
3 January 2023

Last year, while US conservatives led the Supreme Court to remove constitutional protection for abortion, feminists across Latin America and the Caribbean moved several governments in the opposite direction.

But the powerful movement behind such progressive change faces difficult challenges in 2023, including safeguarding hard-won rights and overcoming the disparity of abortion policies between different countries.


As US Guts Reproductive Rights, Sierra Leone Moves to Decriminalize Abortion

BY Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams
July 2, 2022

As the U.S. Supreme Court and Republican-controlled state legislatures void the constitutional right to abortion in the United States, Sierra Leone on Friday joined the growing list of African nations that have moved to protect the health and rights of pregnant people by decriminalizing the medical procedure.

“At a time in the world when sexual and reproductive health rights for women are either being overturned or threatened, we are proud that Sierra Leone can once again lead with progressive reform,” Julius Maada Bio, president of the West African nation, said during his closing remarks at the 10th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights in the capital city of Freetown.


Global abortion-rights advocates worry their countries are next if Roe falls

Activists said they spoke to officials not only about their fears of the international impact if Roe were to fall but also proposed changes to U.S. policy that has long restricted funding for abortions abroad.


Abortion-rights advocates from around the world have met with congressional, USAID, HHS and State Department leaders to discuss worries that their countries will be next to see more restrictions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

In meetings last week, the activists said they spoke to officials not only about their fears of the international impact if Roe were to fall but also proposed changes to U.S. policy that has long restricted funding for abortions abroad.


What U.S. women can learn from Poland’s recent abortion restrictions

"It may be difficult to get abortions in Poland, but we have our ways," Polish feminist Krystyna Kacpura says.

May 16, 2022
By Lauren Egan and Corky Siemaszko

WARSAW, Poland — Americans fearing the worst if the Supreme Court repeals Roe v. Wade could look to the Poles for tips about how to fight for abortion rights and find ways around harsh government-imposed restrictions.

Poland, along with Malta, has the strictest abortion restrictions in Europe. It is allowed only in cases of rape, which are difficult to document, or when the life of the woman is endangered. And anyone helping a woman get the procedure for any other reason, including by prescribing pregnancy-terminating medication, could be charged with a crime — similar to what’s already happening in Texas, said Venny Ala-Siurua of Women on Web, an international online abortion service that has been helping women around the world, including thousands in Poland.


Abortion rights activists in the US can learn from recent progress on abortion access in Latin America

Analysis by Stefano Pozzebon, CNN
 Sat May 7, 2022

Bogota, Colombia (CNN)The prospect of the United States overturning decades of abortion rights, which materialized this week in a leaked draft opinion by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, triggered shock waves in many countries in Latin America, where many feminist organizations have often looked at the US as a model of greater reproductive rights and freedoms.

However, that model has flipped on its head in recent years. Just as several US states have put in place further barriers to abortion access through various restrictions, some countries in Latin America have moved in the other direction, with a growing number of countries liberalizing such laws.


How Feminists Won a Historic Abortion Ruling in Colombia

In 2020, Causa Justa in Colombia filed the case that the Constitutional Court ruled on last month, promoting a simple yet transformative argument: that abortion is a health need, and not a matter of criminal persecution.


After months of delays, Colombia’s Constitutional Court finally gave their ruling in a historic case for reproductive justice: In a victory for women and human rights activists everywhere, the justices ruled to decriminalize abortion completely up to 24 weeks and unconditionally under the existing three exceptions. The case, brought by a collective of feminist movements known as Causa Justa, argued for the common sense idea that criminalizing abortion violates the human rights of women, girls and other pregnant people.

Just 16 years ago, Colombia had a total ban on abortions. In 2006, the feminist organization WomensLinkWorldwide secured a Constitutional Court ruling to allow abortion in cases of rape, incest or when the life or health of the woman is at risk. But women in Colombia continued to face multiple barriers to accessing legal abortions under these exceptions…


As the US continues to pass extreme abortion bans, Latin American countries legalize access

Published March 10, 2022
Podcast: 51:56 minutes

On this edition of Your Call, we'll discuss the continued attacks on abortion and the very real possibility that Roe could be overturned in the United States. If that happens, 26 states would ban most or all abortions, including Idaho, Louisiana, Utah, and Ohio.

As extreme bans continue to pass in the US, Columbia, Argentina, and Mexico are moving forward by legalizing or decriminalizing abortion. It's taken decades of grassroots activism. We'll find out how they did it.

Shefali Luthra, reporter for The 19th, covering health policy and gender
Giselle Carino, chief executive of Fos Feminista, an alliance of more than 135 organizations worldwide advancing sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice for women, girls, and gender diverse people through healthcare and activism


How Colombian Feminists Decriminalized Abortion: With Help From Their Neighbors

As the United States faces growing restrictions on abortion, activists in Latin America are increasingly relying on one another to knock down barriers in the region.

By Julie Turkewitz, New York Times
Feb. 23, 2022

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Decades of grass roots organizing, with meetings in living rooms and in the streets, online and across borders, have produced a tectonic shift on abortion in Latin America, a historically conservative region where access to the procedure has long been severely limited.

In just over a year, Colombia has joined Mexico and Argentina in knocking down barriers to abortion. It’s all the more striking in contrast to the shift taking place in the United States, the country whose Supreme Court decision guaranteeing the right to abortion — Roe v. Wade — had been a seminal spark for many activists in Latin America.


Mexican women’s solidarity defies Texas abortion law

Natalia Marques
January 3, 2022

Verónica Cruz of the Mexican women’s activist network Las Libres declared, “We aren’t afraid. … We are willing to face criminalization, because women’s lives matter more than their law.”

Cruz and other women in her organization say they will help bring U.S. women seeking abortion from Texas and other parts of the U.S. into Mexico, where abortion is now legal. They are also committed to providing women with medication abortion drugs — bring abortion pills into the U.S. or send them by mail.


A Plan Forms in Mexico: Help Americans Get Abortions

Mexican activists plan to provide women in Texas and other U.S. states with information, support — and abortion-inducing pills.

By Natalie Kitroeff
Dec. 20, 2021

GUANAJUATO, Mexico — Verónica Cruz spent years defying the law in Mexico, helping thousands of women get abortions. Now that Mexico has declared that abortion is no longer a crime, Ms. Cruz and activists like her are planning to bring their mission to a country moving in the opposite direction: the United States.

Abortion restrictions have been multiplying across the United States for years, including just over Mexico’s border in Texas. Now the Supreme Court is considering a case that could diminish or completely overrule Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion. That would likely set off new restrictions in at least 20 states.