2.8 The abortion front lines
In the struggle for legal abortion, as well, good news is often accompanied by bad news. As we were finalizing this issue, the abortion law reform in Spain was approved, despite ongoing protests on the part of the Catholic Church and even when the economic downturn of 2008-2009 could have favored conservative positions over the daring proposals of the socialist government.
In Latin America, the inauguration of José Mujica as the new president of Uruguay is very auspicious, particularly after the perennial scrambling around abortion that characterized the administration of Tabaré Vasquez (2004-2009). During last year’s electoral campaign, a solid agreement was reached between the Frente Amplio and abortion rights advocates to ensure that the Sexual and Reproductive Health law provision vetoed by Vasquez in 2008 would be brought back to the table and approved by the new legislature.
More importantly yet, responding to a formal petition made by abortion rights activists, the Inter-American Comission on Human Rights has issued a precautionary measure requiring the Nicaraguan government to protect the life of Amalia*, who is pregnant, suffers from cancer but can not interrupt the pregnancy because abortion is now completely illegal in Nicaragua (read more in this issue).
In contrast, one major back is underway in Brazil, in relation to the language referring to the legalization of abortion contained in the III National Human Rights Plan. The document was sanctioned by president Lula in December 2009, but when it captured the public attention a month later, its content triggered a series of controversies. The polemic was particularly poignant in relation to the proposition to establish a Commission of Truth to revise crimes committed during the dictatorship, which as openly contested by sectors of the military, and the recommendation to revise abortion laws, which was immediately and strongly attacked by the Catholic Church. On March 16th, the National Secretary for Human Rights publicly announced that the proposal in relation to the legalization of abortion would be eliminated from the text. Read article Abortion and Human Rights: the current Brazilian controversy, by Sonia Corrêa.
Last but least, it was rather regrettable to learn from the press on March 22nd (as this issue was being finalized) that the Obama administration has given up on the public funding of abortion procedures to get the health reform approved (see more on this issue).
*Name changed in order to protect the identity of the woman
> See the campaign No abortion ban