Latin America: Thousands march for abortion rights

By Janet Post
October 18, 2021
Colectiva Feminista

Carrying banners reading “Legal abortion now” and “Our right to decide” in a sea of green shirts and bandanas, thousands of women and their supporters demonstrated for women’s right to decide whether to have an abortion Sept. 28 in Ecuador, El Salvador (above), Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. Organizers called the rallies “International Safe Abortion Day in Latin America.”

Abortion is banned in El Salvador, where women can face up to eight years in prison and 17 women are imprisoned for exercising that right. Last December the Argentine government legalized abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy. A similar bill is being debated in the congress of neighboring Chile. Thousands rallied in the capital Santiago Sept. 28, including members of Coordinadora Feministas en Lucha and Mesa Acción por el Aborto en Chile.

On Sept. 7 Mexico’s supreme court voted to decriminalize abortion in Coahuila state, which borders Texas. The ruling is supposed to be binding on other states in Mexico as well, and any woman now imprisoned for having an abortion was ordered to be released immediately. “We’re very happy that abortion has been decriminalized and now we want it to be legal,” protestor Karla Cihuatl, a member of Frente Feminista, said at a protest in Saltillo, the capital of Coahuila, after the ruling.

Abortion, with some restrictions, is allowed in Argentina, French Guiana, Guyana, Uruguay, three states in Mexico and in Mexico City. Legal, safe and free abortion became available to all women in Cuba as an integral part of public health care following the victory of the Cuban Revolution.