You are here

Latin America

Dominican Republic. Policies fuel teens pregnancy, Human Rights Watch, 2019

Describes the Human Right Watch campaign against the denial of sexual and reproductive rights to young women in the Dominican Republic, which has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Latin America. The country has failed to provide scientifically accurate, right-based sexual education programmes in schools, as the authorities announced they would do in 2015. This article also provides the link to a 50-page report, I Felt Like The World Was Falling Down On Me: Sexual And Reproductive Health And Rights In The Dominican Republic’, which is based on interviews with 30 girls who became pregnant before turning 18 and provides an overview on the stigmatization and clandestine-abortion related risks these young women face.

Anderson, Cora, Decriminalizing Abortion in Uruguay: Women’s Movements, Secularism, and Political Allies, Journal of Women, Politics, & Policy, Vol. 38, issue 2, 2016, pp. 221-246

In 2012 Uruguay became the second country in Latin America to decriminalize abortion during the first trimester. Drawing on original field research, this article argues that the reform was due to the existence of a strong campaign for decriminalization. The women’s movement framed their case to resonate within civil society, gathered support from key social actors, and collaborated closely with sympathetic legislators. Success was also due to the limited influence of the Catholic Church, a president open to abortion reform, and a highly institutionalized party system creating a strong leftist coalition.

Cariboni, Diana, How ‘conscientious objectors’ threaten women’s newly-won abortion rights in Latin America, OpenDemocracy, 18/07/2018,

Discusses the negative implication of the right of doctors and nurses to claim ‘objection of conscience’ over women’s right to have an abortion in Latin America.

Davy, Steven, The red cloak of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is becoming a symbol for reproductive rights, PRI, 08/08/2018,

Brief exploration of the increasing use of the red cloak as a symbol of advocacy for reproductive rights in Northern Ireland, the US, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Maira, Gloria ; Casas, Lidia ; Vovaldi, Lieta, Abortion in Chile. The Long Road to Legalization and its Slow Implementation, Health and Human Rights Journal, Vol. 21, issue 2, 2020, pp. 121-131

Until as recently as September 2017, Chile was one of the few countries in the world that did not permit abortion under any circumstances. Although the Health Code had permitted therapeutic abortion on health grounds from 1931, this was repealed in 1989 as one of General Pinochet’s last acts in office. It took more than 25 years to reverse the ban. Finally, a new act was approved allowing abortion on three grounds: when a woman’s life is in danger, when there are foetal anomalies incompatible with life, and in the case of rape. Since the law allows abortion only in limited cases, most women continue to seek illegal abortions. In this paper, the authors explore the historical context in which Chile’s 2017 bill was finally passed and analyze the legislative debate. They also present the results of a community-based participatory research effort carried out by feminist and human rights organizations. Despite the 2017 law, this research shows the persistence of various obstacles to women’s access to legal abortion, such as conscientious objection by medical staff a lack of trained health care providers, and a lack of information for women.

Mariela, Belski, Argentina’s abortion vote was a stepping stone not a setback, Time, 10/08/2018,

In a positive light, Belski discusses the advances in the fight to legalise abortion in Argentina, despite the Senate refusing to pass a bill legalising abortion in 2018. She notes the change in language by the media whilst referring to women and men; the establishment of mainstream discourses on sexual harassment and gender-based violence, and the recognition of the symbolic power of the handkerchiefs that identify the widespread pro-choice movement in Argentina and the rest of Latin America.

See also http://socialistworker.org/2018/08/16/the-people-versus-the-parliament-in-argentina

For the re-launch of the campaign for legal abortion see https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/02/abortion-rights-campaigners-flood-streets-buenos-aires-190220143549930.html

Piñeiro, Claudia, Argentina's women will not be defeated, Guardian Weekly, 17/08/2019,

Discusses Senate vote against legalising abortion in Argentina.

See also https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/10/argentina-women-abortion-hollow-senate-victory

Prandini, Mariana, Liberating abortion pills in legally restricted settings, in Henne, Kathryn and Rita Shah (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Public Criminologies, In , New York and London, Taylor & Francis, pp. 120-130

Mariana Prandini examines how Brazilian feminists mobilized against the criminalization of abortion in August 2018, when people from different countries in Latin America gathered for a week for the Festival for Women’s Lives. Brazilian, Uruguayan and Argentinian activists exchanged information about their own struggles for abortion rights. Prandini also analyses the criminalization of the abortion pill and its effect on abortion activism in Brazil.

Singer, Elyse, Realizing Abortion Rights at the Margins of Legality in Mexico, Medical Anthropology, Vol. 38, issue 2, 2019, pp. 167-181

This paper analyses conceptual and tactical approaches adopted by Las Fuertes, a feminist organization that campaign for abortion rights in the conservative Mexican state of Guanajuato. Since a series of United Nations agreements throughout the 1990s enshrined reproductive rights as universal human rights, Mexican feminists have adopted the human rights platform as the basis for lobbying the government to reform restrictive abortion laws. This strategy has been successful in Mexico City in 2007 when abortion was legalised. Rather than seeking to implement abortion laws through legalistic channels, Las Fuertes has effectively challenged Mexican reproductive governance in an adversarial political environment.

Sutton, Barbara ; Borland, Elizabeth, Abortion and Human Rights for Women in Argentina, Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, Vol. 40, issue 2, 2019, pp. 27-61

Explores the criminalization of abortion in Argentina and its implications for the lives of women, such as maternal mortality and clandestine practice. The article also covers the struggle of feminist activists to include reproductive rights within the framework of human rights.

Websites recommended

(New) The fight for abortion in Latin America (Audio) - https://player.fm/series/latino-rebels-radio-1010854/ep-214-the-fight-for-abortion-in-latin-america 2019,

Latino Rebels Radio interview with Paula Ávila-Guillén, a human rights lawyer and women’s rights activist, on the fight to legalize abortion in several Latin American countries and the work that the Women’s Equality Center is doing, gearing up for legislative pushes around abortions rights.