Latin America: The region with more abortions

With the result of the referendum that allows abortion in one of the most conservative societies in the Western hemisphere, the issue takes relevance in the world because of the positions that are faced

Latin America: The region with more abortions

Ireland will reform its Constitution after the historic victory of the referendum that sought to legalize abortion. 66.4% of voters approved the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, a portion of the Constitution that provided the right to life to the unborn, giving it the same status as that of the mother.

Leer en español: América Latina: La región en donde más se aborta

That country, with a thick conservative and Catholic history, has shown in the last decades a paradigm shift more aligned with the political tendencies of Western Europe. In the 90's, Ireland legalized divorce, contraceptives and decriminalized homosexuality. Also, in this century the country has chosen an openly homosexual prime minister and approved equal marriage.

Among the reasons for the liberalization of the country, many point to the loss of the influence of the Catholic Church. According to El Pais of Spain, the Archbishop of Armagh, Northern Ireland, Eamon Martin, recognizes that religion does not make part of the identity of the Irish. This could explain the change in social policies of the last few decades.

What is the panorama of abortion in Latin America?

According to the Abortion Worldwide 2017: Uneven Progress and Unequal Access report, Latin America is the region with more abortions. In Latin America, 44 per 1,000 women incur an abortion, compared to other regions such as Africa (34 per 1,000) and Asia (36 per 1,000).

There are four Latin countries where abortion is totally prohibited: El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. The case of El Salvador is particular, because until 1998 abortion was allowed in case of rape, malformation or risk to the life of the mother. However, the change of the Penal code in that country reversed the situation.

Until last year Chile was part of the previous list, but after two years of debate decriminalized abortion in the three exceptions that El Salvador once allowed. Likewise, in the rest of Latin America, there are more or less tolerant abortive measures, which as in Chile have exceptions for the practice of abortion.

In South America, all countries allow abortion to be performed on a woman whose life is at risk.

When the fetus is the product of a rape, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela have restrictions. For example, in Argentina, a pregnancy can be interrupted as a result of a rape until the twelfth week of gestation and in Chile until the fourteenth week in people over 14 years of age.

In cases of abortion, because the fetus has conditions of malformation, a woman could only do so in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay. However, the Chilean case has the peculiarity of only allowing it when it is a lethal condition for the fetus.

On the other hand, in Uruguay, an abortion can be interrupted if the woman does not have the economic capacity to support the eventually born child.

In Latin America, abortion is completely free in Costa Rica, Cuba, Guyana, and Uruguay, because in these countries abortion is available upon request. In other words, a woman can abort without having to classify in any of the common exceptions.

It seems that Latin America is shown as a region that has tools to reduce the number of women who die due to miscarriages in hiding, but the figures say otherwise. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 out of every 4 abortions is unsafe in Latin America. The region has many political, social and economic restrictions that prevent any woman from having a safe abortion.

Abortion will not cease to exist, so it is essential to guarantee options for women to stop dying in clandestine clinics. Criminalizing women only causes revictimization and does not encourage sexual responsibility or the reduction of abortions.

Latin American Post | Iván Parada Hernández

Translated from "América Latina: La región en donde más se aborta"

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