Latin American Women Take to the Streets on International Safe Abortion Day
One activist in Mexico said the country's green wave movement now had the task of "decriminalizing abortion in the minds of the people."
Women march in Mexico City on International Safe Abortion Day -- image via Twitter
By Olivia Rosane, Common Dreams
Tens of thousands of women marched through major Latin American cities Thursday to celebrate wins and push for more rights on International Safe Abortion Day.
The protests come weeks after a major victory for the region's Green Wave reproductive freedom movement, when Mexico's Supreme Court decriminalized abortion.
"It's absolutely an achievement," Fernanda Castro, an organizer at womens' rights group GIRE that brought the case before the court, told The Associated Press. "And now we have another even more important fight—decriminalizing abortion in the minds of the people."
Marchers in Brazil hoped they might be next to celebrate, as the nation's highest court is currently considering a case that could decriminalize abortion until up to 12 weeks. As of now, it is only allowed in cases of rape or birth defects.
Brazil's Supreme Federal Court President Rosa Weber voted in favor of permitting abortion until up to 12 weeks and then retired, La Prensa Latina explained. Now the entire court must rule in while conservative lawmakers want to put the question to a referendum vote.
"The green wave is going to keep growing and (Brazilian women) are not alone," Castro told AP.
In other countries, demonstrators stood vigilant against rollbacks. In Santiago, Chile, women protested a proposal to repeal the country's existing abortion law that allows for exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother.
Such a repeal would be a "serious setback in the sexual and reproductive rights of women," Minister of Women and Gender Equality Antonia Orellana told La Prensa Latina.
Reproductive rights defenders in Argentina are fighting to preserve protections won three years ago when the Senate voted to legalize abortion. Right-wing candidate Javier Milei, who is leading in the polls ahead of October's election, opposes abortion and has promised to put the question to a national referendum, AP pointed out. He has also criticized free gender-affirming medical care and mandatory sexual education.
"More than winning more rights, this is about protecting them. The most important thing is to protect what's already there," art student Sara Rivas told AP.
El Salvador is one of four countries—the others being Nicaragua, Poland, and the U.S.—that have rolled back or ended legal abortion protections in the last three decades, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. There, abortion is banned even if the mother's health is in jeopardy, and women can face up to 30 years in prison for misscarrying, according to La Prensa Latina.
Activists from the Feminist Assembly gathered in El Salvador to oppose the status quo. One protester, Liseth Alas, called for "legislation that allows safeguarding the life and health of girls and women in the country," La Prensa Latina reported.
Overall, however, the Center for Reproductive Rights said the region offered hope for the global push for abortion access.
"Movements like Latin America's awe-inspiring Green Wave movement to decriminalize and legalize abortion are effectively changing laws and cultural norms across the globe, building momentum and creating new legal frameworks that we can use to make change in every country," the group posted on social media Thursday.
Olivia Rosane is a staff writer for Common Dreams.
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