How Latin American women are winning the battle for abortion rights

Argentina, Colombia and Mexico have recently legalised or decriminalised abortion. Could Chile be next?

Diana Cariboni
29 April 2022

It was inconceivable, just five years ago, that ultra-conservative Colombia would decriminalise abortion, or that Catholic, neoliberal Chile would be gearing up to vote on a new constitution that enshrines sexual and reproductive rights, including on-request abortion.

Yet in February, Colombia’s constitutional court removed abortion (up to 24 weeks) from the criminal code in response to a court case brought by Causa Justa – the spearhead of a wide-ranging social and legal campaign of more than 120 groups and thousands of activists.


Looking back on the successes of the International Safe Abortion Day 2021

10 December 2021
FIGO Advocating for Safe Abortion Project

For International Safe Abortion Day (ISAD), marked on 28 September, the 10 national member societies FIGO supports through its Advocating for Safe Abortion Project developed educational activities and awareness-raising campaigns in their countries and communities.

“International Safe Abortion Day is about making what is often ignored – the preventable pandemic of unsafe abortions -  visible. As a committed health care community we come together to demonstrate what solutions must be implemented. Together with our partners, we raise our voices to dismantle abortion-related stigma which is the enemy of women/girls’ right to claim access to safe abortion – time-sensitive essential health care.  This year from Latin America to Africa we are proud to share the efforts of our OBGYN member societies, and all that they are doing to stand up for women/girls’ health care and human rights.”
– Jessica Morris, Senior Project Manager, Advocating for Safe Abortion Project, FIGO


Underground Activists in Brazil Fight for Women’s Reproductive Rights

While abortion has long been aggressively criminalized in Brazil, in the past few years, anti-abortion zeal has reached a fever pitch. In response, abortion activist networks support and guide women through at-home procedures.

October 23, 2021
Alejandra Marks 

Last month, when Taís Oliveira* found out she was pregnant, she got in her car and cried. A single mother living in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, Taís had promised herself she would never raise a child alone again. The next day she began her search for an abortion. Under President Jair Bolsonaro’s radically anti-choice government, however, obtaining one through either legal or illegal means would be difficult. With scores of religious conservatives in Congress and at the helm of the public agencies, anti-abortion surveillance pervades.


Abortion Without Borders helps more than 34,000 people in Poland access abortions

Published on October 21, 2021

A year ago – on 22 October 2020 – a Polish Constitutional Court decided
that the provision of abortion in case of foetal malformation was
unconstitutional. While the decision didn’t come into force until 27 January
2021, the change happened immediately. The next day, despite the still-valid
provision of abortion under Poland’s abortion act, the first four people
refused abortion in Polish hospitals called Abortion Without Borders for help.

Over the past 12 months Abortion Without Borders groups have helped 34,000
people from Poland to access abortion. 1080 people were able to terminate their
pregnancy in a foreign clinic in the second trimester. Financial support given
was more than 700,000 zloty/ £129,000/ €153,000.


Brazil – Legal and safe abortion is not a matter of religion, but of public health

October 1, 2021
by Jenni Smith

Policies to protect women in Brazil continue to be irresponsible, which has generated deaths, diverse violence and deepened inequalities in the country.

Last Tuesday (28), the Global Day for Safe Abortion took place. The date was celebrated by our Chilean neighbors with the approval by the Chamber of Deputies of the decriminalization of abortion until the 14th week, a project that goes to vote in the other legislative house.


South Africa – Call to remove stigma surrounding abortions for safe, legal procedure

By Goitsemang Tlhabye
Oct 1, 2021

Pretoria - Healthcare stakeholders have called on communities to rid themselves of the stigma that has continued to inhibit women’s access to safe and legal abortions.

Abortion consultant with Ipas South Africa, Dr Makgoale Magwentshu, also a senior capacity-building and policy adviser for sexual and reproductive health, said the stigma surrounding abortions had continued to act as a barrier to ensuring women had access to safe and legal abortions.


Ghana recorded 200k abortions in 2017 – Study

Source: GNA 
30 September 2021

Ghana in 2017 recorded about 200,000 abortions, an equivalent to a national abortion rate of 26.8 per 1000 women between 15 and 49 years, a study by the Guttmacher Institute has revealed.

Guttmacher Institute is a leading research and policy organisation committed to advancing sexual reproductive health and rights in the United States of America.     


Unsafe abortions contribute to Ghana’s high maternal mortality – Dr. Ali Samba


Unsafe abortions contribute to Ghana’s high maternal mortality - Dr. Ali Samba Listen to article

Complications from unsafe abortions contribute substantially to high
maternal mortality in Ghana, which was estimated at 310 maternal deaths per
100,000 live births in 2017.

This is according to the Director of Medical Affairs of the Korle Bu Teaching
Hospital, Dr. Ali Samba.


Ghana – Indigenous Women Empowerment Network advocates improved contraceptive services to prevent unsafe abortion

Nestor Kafui Adjomah 
29 September 2021

The Indigenous Women Empowerment Network (IWEN), a health-centered organisation has been advocating a wider range of improved contraceptives and high-quality counseling services to prevent unintended pregnancies that could result in unsafe abortions.

According to the Executive Secretary of IWEN, Celestina Andoh, most young women in Ghana face difficulties in accessing sexual and reproductive health services whilst many others are not using contraceptive despite wanting to avoid pregnancy.


Protesters demand abortion rights across Latin America

Thousands of women across Latin America rallied to call for access to legal, safe and free abortion.

29 Sep 2021 Al Jazeera

Thousands of women joined demonstrations across Latin America to demand abortion rights in their countries, marking the Global Day of Action for access to legal, safe and free abortion.

Marches were called on Tuesday in Venezuela, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, and Colombia, demanding voluntary access to reproductive medical services without fear of punishment.

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