Promoting Safe Abortions: EU Pushes for Women’s Rights in Latin America

Written by | Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Women’s rights in Latin America are lagging behind. Women continue to be imprisoned for having an abortion, forced to keep a child out of rape and pushed to commit suicide. Women’s rights in South America were therefore the focal point of a conference before the 10th Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (EUROLAT) that took place last September in El Salvador. El Salvador is now ranked as the most dangerous country in the world, which is mostly caused by gang activities.

“We believe that it is illogical and antiquated that women are still condemned to horrible sentences for having aborted. It is simply beyond our comprehension,” stated the Spanish MEP Ramón Jauregui (S&D). Mr. Jauregui said that obviously the EU cannot interfere but can emphasize that if region wants to move to the European notion of human rights, this would also means “recognizing women’s right in Latin America, including the right to abortion”. Mr. Jáuregui then also stressed that “it is a basic right all across Europe.”

In Europe, only Malta, Andorra and the Vatican prohibit abortion in all cases. Abortion is also restricted in Spain where doctors can invoke a conscientious objection and in Ireland and Northern Ireland where terminations are only allowed if the life of the mother is at risk. Across Latin America, all abortions are punished by law, though thousands of backstreet abortions are performed. The United Nations estimates that the Central American and Caribbean region has one of the highest rates of unwanted pregnancies in the world (56% in total).

Evidence shows that complete ban on abortion does not decrease the number of abortions but instead increase the risk of women dying due to unsafe backstreet abortions. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that restrictive abortion laws put women and girls living in poverty at particular risk of unsafe abortions. Moreover, criminalization of abortion in all cases discourages women from seeking medical care and makes doctors fearful of providing life-saving treatment to women whose life or health are at risk by pregnancy, or who suffer complications from an unsafe abortion.

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