Women’s movements are holding, this Wednesday (28), in all Brazilian capitals, demonstrations for the Latin American and Caribbean day of struggle for the legalization of abortion. The mobilizations take place less than a week since the issue began to be judged in the Federal Supreme Court (STF). Check the location and time of the event in each city.
With a favorable vote from Minister Rosa Weber for the decriminalization of the procedure carried out up to 12 weeks of gestation, the trial was temporarily suspended so that it can continue in physical plenary, but no date has yet been set.
:: Rosa Weber votes for the decriminalization of abortion up to 12 weeks ::
If the minister’s position forms a majority, Brazil will join eight other Latin American countries that allow abortion to be performed under any circumstances, as long as it is carried out within a certain period of pregnancy.
Three of them – Mexico, Colombia and Argentina – have experienced the changes recently, in the last three years. Counting Uruguay, which legalized abortion in 2012, such legal decisions are part of the so-called “green wave” in Latin America, which, according to political scientist Beatriz Rodrigues Sanchez, would be “an advance towards the consolidation of sexual and reproductive rights of women and people who become pregnant.”
Therefore, Sanchez considers that Brazil is experiencing “a crucial moment”. Researcher at the Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning (Cebrap), where she dedicates herself to comparative analysis on the topic in Argentina and Brazil, Beatriz assesses that the country is in “a unique moment: propitious for the debate on the legalization of abortion to be done broadly by society, taking as a reference what has happened in other countries on the continent”.
:: STF will judge the discrimination of abortion in the in-person plenary ::
“It is evident that in recent years, thanks to the feminist movement and the action of organized women, we have made significant progress in sexual and reproductive rights. An example of this is that only a minority of countries in our region completely prohibit abortion”, says Chilean Carol Kariola, deputy for the Communist Party in her country and member of the Feminist International, an organization founded in April this year in Mexico.
Unlike the Uruguayan and Argentine experiences, where legalization was decided in Parliament, in Colombia and Mexico it went through the judiciary, in bodies equivalent to the STF. In all cases, however, the votes were tight. In Uruguay and Colombia, the difference was just one vote.
In Mexico, the Supreme Court decriminalized abortion on September 6th. The decision advanced in relation to another, taken in 2021, which allowed states to release the procedure.
In February 2022, it was Colombia’s turn. After eight hours of debate and with a score of 5 to 4, the court ruled that abortion up to the 24th week of pregnancy is no longer a crime. The decision was the result of pressure, among others, from the Causa Justa movement, which since 2018 has brought together 115 organizations and thousands of activists.
Currently, feminist movements are fighting to ensure that access to the right is, in fact, guaranteed. “Professionals will need to understand – and you know how complicated this can be in practice – that if abortion is available, then the procedure needs to be respectful and of good quality,” Colombian Marta Jiménez, from Causa Justa, told People Dispatch.
Before 2022, voluntary termination of pregnancy was only permitted in Colombia in the same situations as they are currently in Brazil. When pregnancy is the result of rape, the pregnant woman’s life is at risk or when the fetus is diagnosed with a serious malformation – in the Brazilian case, specifically anencephaly.
It was the massive demonstrations of women in Argentina, however, that not only culminated in the approval of the law that at the end of 2020 made abortion legal, safe and free in the country until the 14th week of pregnancy, but also became the symbol of this struggle on the continent.
:: Criminalization of abortion puts the health and lives of women in the country at risk, experts highlight ::
The scarves of the fight
Inspired by the white scarves of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, which became the hallmark of the Argentine legalization movement and were adopted in other countries, they are not randomly colored green. A member of Catholics for the Right to Decide in Argentina and one of the creators of the ornament, Marta Alanis told the Washington Post that green, chosen for the first time in a protest in 2003, represents “growth, life”, as a challenge to pro-government movements. life.
“One of the most inspiring elements of the feminist struggle in Argentina for the legalization of abortion was the movement’s ability to promote a ‘social legalization’ of abortion even before the agenda was approved in the Legislature”, reports Beatriz Sanchez.
“The topic of abortion began to be discussed everywhere, which had a significant impact on the position of public opinion on the topic”, describes the researcher.
“The reporting of cases of women who died after undergoing the procedure in precarious conditions, framing the issue as a matter of public health and not criminal law, was one of the factors that made people who were previously against the agenda reflect on the issue and started to defend legalization”, says Beatriz.
:: Check out the locations of the events for the decriminalization of abortion this Thursday (28) ::
Feminists in Argentina point out, however, that, as happens in Brazil in the restricted cases in which abortion is permitted, Argentine women have encountered difficulties in accessing the procedure even though it is provided for by law.
“One of the main barriers is the issue of conscientious objection, when doctors refuse to perform the procedure claiming that the abortion would be contrary to their individual principles, whether moral or religious”, explains Sanchez. “The progress made with the approval of the law in the country is undeniable, but the fight for the legalization of abortion is not over yet, it is an ongoing fight”, she concludes.
The “green wave”, which began in 2012 in Uruguay, marked the resumption of the decriminalization of abortion on the continent after a 17-year hiatus. Before that, Guyana legalized the procedure in 1995, French Guiana in 1975 (following French legislation), Puerto Rico in 1973 and Cuba in 1965.
Chile: “We are in a risk situation”
The waves, however, do not all go in the same direction. In Chile, on September 28th – but in 2021 – the Chamber of Deputies approved the decriminalization of abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. Two months later, however, the law was analyzed again by the plenary (as part of the text was adapted to include trans people) and then the position changed. By 65 votes to 62, the law was rejected and archived.
Currently, with abortion only permitted in cases similar to those in Brazil, Chile is at risk of more restrictive regulations on pregnancy termination being approved. This is because the country is on the eve of approving a new Constitution.
The replacement of the Magna Carta, in force since Pinochet’s time, was how the wave of demonstrations that took over the country between 2019 and 2020 was channeled, the trigger for which was the increase in transport fares. About a year ago, however, the Chilean people rejected in a plebiscite a constitutional text drawn up by a body of civil society representatives.
Now the new proposal, which will be evaluated in a new referendum in December, is being made by a group of parliamentarians who are mostly right-wing. Last September 20, this Constitutional Council created an article that establishes “the right to life” of those “unborn”.
“Unfortunately, due to the increase in right-wing and extreme-right rhetoric in our country, the Republican Party presented a series of constitutional amendments that seek to reverse the achievement of this right, even in certain situations, for women in Chile”, narrates Karol Cariola .
“We are in a risky situation and I believe that this situation should serve as a warning to other countries in Latin America that have managed to advance and consolidate sexual and reproductive rights”, says Cariola.
:: Carried out by 1 in every 7 women up to 40 years of age, abortion is on the STF agenda this Friday (21); understand what is at stake ::
The Feminist International, of which the deputy is a member, brings together parliamentarians, academics and other representatives from 30 countries in America, Asia and Europe. With the aim, according to the manifesto, of “promoting a common agenda in favor of equality and a life free from sexist violence”, the organization is developing a public policy observatory and a feminist training school.
“Voluntary termination of pregnancy and gestation are seen by the Feminist International as fundamental rights for women’s autonomy, the right to decide about our bodies. This is related to one of our fundamental principles because we believe in the full freedom of human beings”, says Cariola.
For Brazilian Tabata Tesser, from Catholics for the Right to Decide, “Argentina, Mexico and Colombia are some of the countries that have already demonstrated that it is possible to have legislation that is not discriminatory and that can accommodate the decision and autonomy of women in relation to pregnancy. unwanted.” That’s why in Brazil, she highlights, “what has moved us is a feeling of urgency”.
Editing: Rodrigo Chagas