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.


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.


What The Green Scarf Means In The Fight For Reproductive Rights

MAY 17, 2022

When a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion in early May revealed that Rove v. Wade will likely be overturned, protests broke out across the country, as activists pushed for lawmakers to codify the landmark decision that protected a pregnant person’s right to choose abortion via the Women’s Health Protection Act. Over the weekend, the New York chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America held a march and called on all the attendees to wear green and “bring your green bandana.” Similar protests were held in cities like Miami and Washington, D.C., where many attendees likewise sported green scarves on their wrists and necks.

While the green scarf may be the new symbol of the pro-abortion fight in the U.S, it's been around for at least a decade. In fact, it emerged in Argentina in the late 2010s, as the country’s activists fought to decriminalize abortion in a sweeping movement that earned them the title “Marea Verde” or “Green Wave.”


Colombia legalized abortions for the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. A backlash ensued

May 10, 2022

BOGOTA, Colombia — As some U.S. states place more restrictions on abortion and Americans brace for the possibility that the Supreme Court will soon overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing the procedure, several Latin American countries have moved in the opposite direction.

The latest nation to do so was Colombia. On Feb. 21, Colombia's Constitutional Court legalized abortion during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.


Colombia has approved more liberal abortion laws, sparking backlash

March 30, 2022
(4-minute podcast with transcript)

Colombia approved some of the most liberal abortion laws in the Americas in February. The decision has provoked a backlash from anti-abortion groups.

As some states in the U.S. have restricted access to abortion, several Latin American countries have moved in the opposite direction. The latest was Colombia, where the Constitutional Court in February approved some of the most liberal abortion laws in the Americas. Reporter John Otis retraces the country's course on this issue. And just a note - this story begins with some disturbing imagery.


Activists welcome Colombia’s decriminalisation of abortion

Amy Booth, The Lancet WORLD REPORT| VOLUME 399, ISSUE 10328, P899
MARCH 05, 2022

The ruling consolidates Latin America's swing towards pro-choice, following similar recent decisions in Argentina and Mexico. Amy Booth reports.

Colombia's constitutional court has decriminalised elective abortion up to 24 weeks, giving the country some of the most liberal abortion legislation in Latin America. The ruling deepens a trend towards legalisation in a region where the procedure was almost universally banned until recently. Following extensive and litigious negotiations, the court announced its 5–4 verdict on Feb 21, 2022. Outside the courthouse, feminist campaigners clad in the emerald green of Latin America's green tide pro-choice movement hugged each other and jumped for joy, many bursting into tears.


Colombia becomes latest Latin American country to partially decriminalize abortion

By Stefano Pozzebon, Kara Fox and Megan Janetsky, CNN
Tue February 22, 2022

Bogota, Colombia (CNN)Colombia became the latest country in Latin America to partially decriminalize abortion on Monday, marking a major victory for the nation's feminist movements and reflecting a wider shift in views toward the procedure across the region.

The country's Constitutional Court ruled in favor of legalizing abortion up until 24 weeks of a pregnancy, the supreme tribunal announced in a statement.


Colombia Decriminalizes Abortion

The decision by the Constitutional Court comes in the wake of similar moves in Mexico and Argentina

Feb. 21, 2022
New York Times

The ruling opens the door for abortion to become widely accessible in the country.

Having an abortion is no longer a crime under Colombian law, the country’s top court on constitutional matters ruled on Monday, in a decision that paves the way for the procedure to become widely available across this historically conservative, Catholic country.


Colombia on Cusp of Decriminalizing Abortion

With a majority vote in the Constitutional Court this week, Colombia could become the first country in Latin America to remove abortion from its penal code.

Sophie Foggin
November 17, 2021

A few months after arriving in Colombia with her three children, Evaluna, a then 22-year-old migrant from Venezuela, discovered she was pregnant.

“I felt scared; I was very depressed,” she said, after finding out the news. “I had no way of maintaining [the baby] because I didn’t have a job.”


Colombia Weighs Abortion Decriminalization As Feminist ‘Green Wave’ Sweeps Latin America

Travis Waldron
Thu, November 11, 2021

Colombia’s top constitutional court is set to rule in the coming days in a landmark case that could fully decriminalize abortion, a result that would provide the latest jolt to the feminist “Green Wave” movement that has pushed for and won expanded reproductive rights across Latin America.

In December, Argentina became the largest of the region’s nations to legalize abortion. In April, Ecuador’s top court decriminalized abortion in instances of rape, expanding the number of circumstances in which it is allowed. Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled in September that criminal penalties for abortion are unconstitutional, paving the way for legalization across a country where abortion has been legal in some states for more than a decade. The same month, Chile’s lower chamber of congress opened debate on legislation to expand legal access to abortion, although it has not yet become law.