Social Issues

Across Latin America, protesters demand end to criminalization of abortion

Bogotá, Sep 28 (EFE).- Latin America commemorated International Safe Abortion Day on Tuesday amid battles taking place in courts, across governmental bodies and on the streets.

In the region, Argentina, Cuba, Uruguay, Guyana and four Mexican territories have decriminalized abortion.

However, in Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Bolivia and Peru, abortion is illegal except in cases such as rape, fetal abnormalities incompatible with life or risk to the life of the mother.

In Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras, the termination of pregnancy is totally illegal, and carries prison sentences for women who undergo the procedure and for those who carry it out.

An unprecedented motion that decriminalizes abortion up to 14 weeks of gestation progressed Tuesday in Chile, where the three aforementioned exceptions have been admitted since 2017, but it still has a very long and complicated journey ahead.

The Lower House ratified an amendment to the penal code that seeks to end punishments against women who carry out a voluntary termination of pregnancy until 14 weeks.

However, this initiative, which the government of the conservative president Sebastián Piñera opposes, still lacks a process of concrete articulation in the legislature that, if passed, would make abortion not punishable, but would not guarantee it as a right.

Mexico City and the states of Oaxaca, Hidalgo and Veracruz are the only Mexican territories where abortion is totally legal, but the women who demonstrated on Tuesday advocated for better sanitary and legal conditions across the country.

Collectives demonstrated through the center of Mexico City and, although they had planned to go to the capital’s Zócalo, a group deviated from the original route to make a stop at the Angel of Independence, where they painted graffiti and tried to tear down the metal fences protecting it.

During a march in San Salvador, protesters spoke out in favor of the implementation of public policies on sexual and reproductive health and, in turn, called on the legislature to amend the penal code to decriminalize abortion, at least on the three internationally recognized grounds.

During a tour through the streets of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the most populated in Bolivia, protesters demanded free and safe abortions, or that at least the bodies involved respect the cases for interruption of pregnancy provided by law.

Protesters asked that “public servants” stop putting up “obstacles” to performing abortions when they fall under those circumstances, and that workers who refuse to perform this procedure be punished.

In Colombia, the Constitutional Court in 2006 decriminalized abortion in the three cases, but, according to the most recent report of the United Nations Population Fund published Tuesday, the court is debating whether Article 122 is unconstitutional in declaring the voluntary interruption of pregnancy a crime.

The promoters of this change in Colombian legislation want abortion to be seen as a public health issue, rather than a criminal one.

In Venezuela, organizations took advantage of global day of action for access to safe and legal abortion to demand that legislative and judicial powers decriminalize the interruption of pregnancy.

“The criminalization of abortion violates the human rights of women, girls and adolescents to personal integrity, health, free development of the personality, the right not to be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, to live a life free of violence,” said Laura Cano, organizer of the so-called Green Route. EFE


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