By Sonia Corrêa*
When 2007 begun, abortion rights advocates worldwide were, on the one hand, deeply regretting the abolition of the therapeutic abortion clause from the Nicaraguan Penal Code, on the other commemorating the decision of the Colombian Constitutional Court that make abortion legal and accessible in the cases of rape, grave fetal abnormality, women’s health and life risks. The year 2007 began positively with the February referendum that legalized abortion in Portugal, which was followed by the legalization of abortion in the Federal District of Mexico, in late April. Last but not least, on November, 6th, the Uruguayan Senate, in an extraordinary session, voted the Law on Sexual and Reproductive Law, which encompasses the legalization of abortion on demand until the 12th week of pregnancy.
The Uruguayan Senate voting is to be seen as a major breakthrough as it overcomes a political and policy stalemate that was installed in May 2004, when a first draft of the law was voted and defeated, even when the reform was supported by 63 percent of the population. The stalemate would be deepened by the announcement made by President Tabare Vazques, when elected in 2004, that he would veto the law if it was re-tabled. Although the text must still be processed by the house of representatives and sanctioned by the president, the sustained and systematic advocacy efforts made by Uruguayan abortion rights activists must be applauded.
In between the Portuguese decision and the Uruguayan step forward many other relevant events are to be mentioned. For instance abortion was a main theme during the Pope visit to Brazil in May, not just because the Vatican used the occasion to deploy aggressive positions against abortion rights, but also because few weeks before the visit the Health Minister expressed the view that abortion should be addressed realistically as a major public health problem. In September the European Court on Human Rights has issued a final decision on the Alicja Tysiac vs Poland case. It rejected the appeal made by the Polish Government, and sustained the March 20th according to which Alicja’s right to privacy has been violated, because the State failed to secure her right to legal abortion to which she was entitled under present anti-abortion law. In London, in late October, Marie Stopes International, IPAS and Abortion Rights organized a global conference to discuss obstacles to legal reform as well advancements experienced, in recent years, in what regards access to safe abortion worldwide.
In contrast, however, the situation in Nicaragua has further deteriorated when the Parliament, in October, voted the new Penal Code reform reaffirming the 2006 ban of the therapeutic abortion clause. Paradoxically, however, the article criminalizing same sex relations was abolished. These contradictory outcomes are worrying symptom that in the current sexual politics landscape deep rifts can arise in relation to abortion rights, on the one hand, and LGBTQ rights on the other.
Check the links below to get additional information on abortion struggles and victories world wide:
Legal Abortion in Portugal
Feminist Majority Foundation
Legal Abortion in Mexico
The Uruguayan Senate Vote
Brazil: Abortion debates and the Pope visit
Undue Tutelage, in the Working paper n.5 – by Washington Castilhos
Open Democracy website
Abortion in Poland
European Court of Human Rights Portal
Abortion ban in Nicaragua
Human Rights Watch
Grupo Lesbico Nicaraguense Safo
Safe Abortion Global Conference, 2007 (London)
International Humanist and Ethical Union
Siyanda Update: Realising Rights to Safe and Legal Abortion, Issue No. 59, October 2007
Abortion in Latin America – Literature Review
The abortion clock
* Sonia Corrêa is a researcher associate at the Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association (Abia) and Co-coordinator of Sexuality Policy Watch (SPW)
:: Posted on Dec 7, 2007 ::