BOGOTA, Colombia ( Associated Press) — As women in the United States are on the verge of losing their constitutional right to abortion, courts in many other parts of the world are moving in the opposite direction.
This includes many traditionally conservative societies – such as most recently in Colombia, where in February the Constitutional Court legalized the procedure until the 24th week of pregnancy, a widespread trend seen in parts of heavily Catholic Latin America. was part of.
It is not yet clear what impact the leaked draft opinion will have outside the United States, suggesting that the US Supreme Court may reverse the landmark 1973 ruling of Roe v. Wade.
But for women activists who have led grinding campaigns calling for open access to abortion, often looking to the United States as a model, it is a discouraging sign and a reminder that the hard work is going on. Hard-earned gains may be temporary.
“This is a terrible precedent for the region and the world for years to come,” said Colombian Catalina Martínez Coral, Latin America and Caribbean director of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, one of the groups that sued abortion. was filed. In the High Court of Colombia.
There the February ruling established a broad right for women to have an abortion within a 24-week period, whereas previously they could do so only in specific cases such as a fetus that presented malformations or the pregnancy resulted from rape. Abortion is still allowed after that period in those special circumstances.
The decision fell short of advocates’ expectations for full de-criminalisation, but Martínez Corral said it still left Colombia with “the most progressive legal framework in Latin America”.
Similarly, Mexico’s Supreme Court last year ruled that punishing abortion is unconstitutional. As the country’s highest court, its ruling has barred all courts from accusing a woman of an offense to terminate a pregnancy.
Laws outlawing abortion are still on the books in most of Mexico’s 32 states, and non-governmental organizations that have long pushed for decriminalization are pushing state legislatures to reform . Abortion was already readily available in Mexico City and some states.
In the south of Argentina, in late 2020 lawmakers passed a bill legalizing abortion until the 14th week and then for circumstances similar to those described in the Colombian regime.
It is also widely available in Cuba and Uruguay.
But access to abortion has not expanded throughout Latin America, with many countries limiting it to certain circumstances – such as Brazil, the region’s most populous country, where it only allows rape, a threat to a woman’s life. and is permissible in cases of certified cases. Birth defects of anencephaly. Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is seeking a new term in October, said recently that he views abortion as a public health issue, in a country facing criticism Where some people accept this process.
Other places have a complete ban without exception, such as Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Courts have since given women long prison sentences for grievous manslaughter, even in cases where prosecutors suspect that the abortion was, in fact, an abortion.
Several African countries also impose outright bans, but in October 2021 Benin legalized abortion up to 12 weeks in most circumstances. Safe access to the procedure has increased significantly after the health minister reported that about 200 women were dying every year due to complications from covert abortion. Abortion was previously permitted in cases of rape or incest; risk to the life of the woman; or severe fetal malformation.
Most European countries have legalized abortion, mostly Catholic. Ireland did so in 2018, after tiny San Marino last dropped in a voter referendum. It is illegal in Andorra, Malta and Vatican City, while Poland tightened its abortion laws last year.
It has also been widely available in Israel since 1978 and is relatively controversial, with the approval of hospital “termination committees” permitted by law before the 24th week that consists of medical professionals, including at least one woman.
Laws and interpretations differ in the Muslim world.
Abortion has been legal for 12 weeks in Tunisia for decades, but has been banned in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Last year, al-Azhar, the leader of Cairo’s top institution of Islamic clerics, said abortion is not a solution even in cases where the child is likely to be seriously ill or disabled.
In Japan, abortion is only allowed for economic and health reasons, and requires the consent of the partners, making Japan one of a handful of countries in the world to do so. Victims of sexual violence are excluded out of necessity.
While women’s right to make their own decisions is increasing, Japan’s government, led by the ultra-conservative Liberal Democratic Party, has long focused on traditional gender roles for women in giving birth and raising children. .
Japan has not approved abortion pills, although an application for one by a British company is pending at the Ministry of Health.
Abortion in India has been legal since 1971. Women can terminate the pregnancy up to 20 weeks, but only on the advice of a doctor. Under the changes in 2021, a woman can also seek abortion up to 24 weeks in certain circumstances such as rape or incest, although this requires the approval of two doctors.
China is moving to limit abortion, but that is because it has one of the highest abortion rates in the world.
Last September, the Chinese cabinet, known as the State Council, published new national guidelines requiring hospitals to “reduce non-medically necessary abortions.” In February, the Family Planning Association of China announced that it would launch a campaign to reduce teen abortion.
When the US Supreme Court’s final ruling is delivered in late June or early July, the world will see.
Agnes Callamard, secretary general of the human rights group Amnesty International, said: “The moves to legalize and legalize abortion in places like Argentina, Ireland, Mexico and Colombia over the past few years have been a huge victory for the global community.” “There are serious indications that the United States is missing out on the progress the rest of the world is making in protecting sexual and reproductive rights.”