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Latin American women march for abortion rights on international safe abortion day

Posted: Sunday, October 1, 2023. 3:16 pm CST.

By Horace Palacio: Drawing from a report by Reuters, cities throughout Latin America witnessed seas of green as countless women took to the streets to observe International Safe Abortion Day on September 28th 2023. This movement comes after years of feminists advocating against rigorous abortion laws, particularly in nations like El Salvador and the Dominican Republic where total bans are still in place.

In Mexico, participants hailed the recent verdict by the Supreme Court to decriminalize abortion federally. Meanwhile, Argentina’s protestors displayed apprehension, with concerns that the upcoming elections in October might jeopardize the rights feminists have worked tirelessly to achieve.

While abortion remained central to the protests, demonstrators also accentuated the alarming rates of gender-driven violence and abuses targeting the LGBTQ+ communities in the region. The streets of Mexico City saw green handkerchiefs – a symbol of Latin America’s “green wave” abortion movement – in the hands of thousands. Banners stating “It’s my decision” and “Free and safe abortions for everyone” were prominently visible.

This significant march transpired shortly after Mexico’s Supreme Court abolished all federal penalties against abortion, deeming such prohibitions unconstitutional and infringing upon women’s rights. This decision mandates federal health establishments to provide abortion services upon request.

According to Fernanda Castro, an organizer with GIRE, a women’s rights group that instigated the lawsuit before Mexico’s Supreme Court, “It’s absolutely an achievement.” However, she underscores the next crucial battle: “decriminalizing abortion in the minds of the people.”

Although 20 states in Mexico still uphold abortion bans, the Supreme Court’s decision has undeniably amplified access to the procedure.

The momentum for abortion decriminalization began in Mexico City 15 years ago and was further propelled when Argentina legalized abortion in 2020, followed by Colombia in 2022. Brazil might be the next in line, with a case currently in its Supreme Court that could possibly decriminalize abortion up to the 12th week of gestation.

However, there is palpable tension in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires. The looming elections have brought forth concerns of legal setbacks due to the rising popularity of right-wing contender, Javier Milei, who opposes abortion and has promised a referendum to revoke the nationwide decriminalization sanctioned by Congress in 2022.

Sara Rivas, an art student who participated in the march, expressed, “More than winning more rights, this is about protecting them.” Rivas emphasized the need to remain vigilant and active, stating, “We are not going to leave the streets, because of these gains, we conquered them in the streets.”


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