By Mariel Yacolca Maguina
Feb 11, 2023
Until 2019, abortions weren’t widely legal anywhere in Latin America except for Cuba and Uruguay; whereas, in the United States, Roe v. Wade widely legalized abortions throughout the country in 1973. Within the last two years, however, countries in Latin America made advances in reproductive rights while the U.S. became increasingly restrictive and finally overturned Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs v. Jackson case. How have the United States and Latin America diverged in their approach to reproductive rights?
In 2015, Argentinian feminists marched with the slogan #NiUnaMenos [“Not one (woman) less”] and started demanding action against gender-based violence and for the end to abortion restrictions. In order to obtain support from the population, #NiUnaMenos framed the issue of abortion as a social justice problem that disproportionally affected low-income women who could not afford safe illegal abortions and often died during clandestine procedures. According to The Economist, upper and middle-class women could get safe illegal abortions by taking misoprostol, which cost about 112 USD, or a surgical abortion which cost 1000 USD. If there were complications, wealthy women could access private healthcare; whereas, low-income women had to seek aid at public hospitals, where the staff was likely to report them.
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.”
On September 22, 2021, a 30-year-old Polish woman named Izabela died of septic shock at the hospital after her unborn baby’s heart stopped beating. Her death initiated waves of protests across Poland and was seen as the direct consequence of a near total ban on abortion passed in 2020, which outlawed the termination of pregnancies even in the case of fetal defects. Under this new law, unlawful abortion could lead to up to eight years in prison. Terrified of the law and of its potential consequences, Izabela’s doctors waited too long to terminate the pregnancy despite knowing the potential risks for the mother—resulting in her death.
The case of Poland sheds light on a puzzling contemporary phenomenon. The right to abortion has recently been under attack in several countries where it was previously legalized in the late 20th century. In September 2021, the US Supreme Court refused to block legislation in Texas that would ban terminations of pregnancy after six weeks, which is after many women are even aware that they are pregnant. In Turkey, where abortion has been legal since 1983, President Erdogan’s conservative position on abortion is making it increasingly difficult for women to access abortions in public hospitals.
Years of campaigning for women’s rights and against domestic violence have paid off and other countries in the region could now follow suit, Lucinda Elliott writes
Wednesday January 06 2021
Graça, a 24-year-old Brazilian medical student, is booked on a flight to Argentina this week to have an abortion. Nearly ten weeks pregnant, she has secured a procedure in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital, more than 1,800 miles away from Minas Gerais state university, where she is studying for a degree.
For Graça, neither supporting a baby nor having a legal termination is a viable option in Brazil, where the draconian abortion law dates back to 1940. She is on a scholarship and to make some money for the journey she has been baking and selling cupcakes.
Country becomes only the third in South America to permit elective abortions
Tom Phillips , Latin America correspondent, and Amy Booth and Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires
Wed 30 Dec 2020
Argentina has become the largest Latin American country to legalise abortion after its senate approved the historic law change by 38 votes in favour to 29 against, with one abstention.
Elated pro-choice campaigners who had been keeping vigil outside Buenos Aires’s neoclassical congressional palace erupted in celebration as the result was announced at just after 4am on Wednesday.
By Charlotte Mitchell
9 December 2020
A 12-year-old girl has given birth to twins in Argentina after being denied an abortion by local authorities despite having been raped.
Authorities in Jujuy forced the child to remain pregnant until the twins could be safely delivered by caesarean section.
Argentina's new president vows to legalise abortion
Campaigners hail Alberto Fernández’s pledge to oversee U-turn in official policy
Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires
Sun 17 Nov 2019
Argentina’s president-elect, Alberto Fernández, has promised he will move to legalise abortion after taking office on 10 December.
He will send a bill to congress which, if approved, would make Argentina the first major Latin American nation with legalised abortion. The ruling in the 45 million-strong country would follow decisions by its much smaller neighbour Uruguay, which legalised the practice in 2012, and Cuba, in 1965.
Argentine abortion activists unbowed in regional battle
August 9, 2019
One year after Argentina’s Senate defeated a bill to legalize abortion, the country’s feminists are keeping up the fight and leading Latin America’s struggle for abortion rights.
Apart from Cuba, Uruguay and Mexico City, voluntary abortion is illegal in Latin America, although it does take place, clandestinely, in conditions that are usually deplorable.
Argentinians formally leave Catholic church over stance on abortion
More than 3,700 people submit apostasy requests in protest against anti-abortion campaign
Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires
Sun 9 Sep 2018
Thousands of Argentinians – most of them women – have started formal proceedings to abandon the Catholic church, in protest of the church’s campaign against efforts to legalise abortion in the country.
In the month since the country's senate voted to maintain a ban on almost all abortions, more than 3,700 people have submitted apostasy applications to the Argentinian synod, according to César Rosenstein, a lawyer and founding member of the Argentinian Coalition for a Lay State.
Latin America’s Rights Riddle
Why the region says yes to same-sex marriage and no to abortion.
By Omar G. Encarnación
August 27, 2018
In Latin America, progressive politics present something of a mystery: As LGBT rights have flourished, women’s reproductive rights have floundered. Earlier this month, for example, a bill to legalize abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy was defeated in the Argentine Senate. This is the same body that in 2010 made Argentina the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage with identical rights to heterosexual marriage. And since that historic milestone, Argentina has enacted one of the most liberal laws on gender identity to be found anywhere in the world. Its code allows people to change the gender listed on their legal documents without a diagnosis of gender dysphoria or permission from a judge, as is required in most countries. The country has also granted same-sex couples reproductive rights, such as access to in vitro fertilization under the national health plan, and has banned programs that aim to “cure” same-sex attraction.