By Alma Beltrán y Puga
Because the Supreme Courtroom of the US strikes nearer to overturning Roe and Casey, trying south to Latin America highlights the egregiousness of those developments.
Lately, Mexico and Colombia have offered landmark choices that acknowledge a lady’s freedom to decide on over her physique is a basic proper. Each rulings use robust arguments to border abortion as protected underneath a constitutional umbrella that enshrines the fitting to equality and non-discrimination, and to well being and reproductive freedom, as basic liberties.
As a ladies’s rights activist who entered the feminist motion very younger (after I was 22 years outdated), I can attest it has been a gradual, collective means of feminist organizing and strategic authorized mobilization concentrating on legislative our bodies and courts to embrace reproductive rights. Feminist authorized mobilization to advance sexual and reproductive rights interacts with a Catholic tradition that fervently defends the fetus’ life as sacred and worthy of State safety. Thus, a lady’s proper to decide on is all the time introduced in opposition to the fitting to lifetime of a possible human being.
This historic conflict of pursuits has made abortion a tough matter to debate with legislators, coverage makers, and judges. Nonetheless, it is just by taking non secular arguments critically that the feminist motion has superior in introducing abortion as a related authorized matter within the constitutional dialog of courts and congresses. I used to be born and raised as a Catholic girl in Mexico. I went to Marymount College in Cuernavaca, a small city close to Mexico Metropolis, the place we needed to watch The Silent Scream for ethics class. This video depicts a well-formed embryo contained in the womb “silently crying” earlier than its life is taken with medical help exterior. Or so I can keep in mind. I’ve by no means watched it once more. But it surely made a giant impression in my concepts of an abortion after I was a youngster.
Since then, I’ve grown as much as perceive that the lifetime of the fetus does matter. But it surely can’t be understood as an autonomous life — or personhood — separate from the girl’s physique. She is the last word and most necessary topic of the being pregnant, which is known as a gestational course of the place the life-in-progress develops inside the girl’s uterus. Due to this fact, prenatal life is subordinate to the safety of the elemental rights of girls, because the Inter-American Courtroom of Human Rights has thought of in Artavia Murillo vs. Costa Rica (2012). This notion — of prenatal life as an incremental worth — additionally drove one of many most important arguments of the Roe vs. Wade resolution in 1973. Nonetheless, it can’t be seen as an absolute proper, however needs to be balanced with ladies’s constitutional rights.
Contemplating the three rulings issued in September 2021 relating to abortion, the proper to life from the second of conception, and conscientious objection, the Supreme Courtroom of Mexico now upholds essentially the most strong case-law on reproductive well being problems with the area. The Mexican Supreme Courtroom not solely said reproductive freedom is a constitutional proper that belongs to ladies and non-binary individuals, but in addition reaffirmed that felony legislation shouldn’t be the information for public well being insurance policies relating to abortion. Quite the opposite, if abortion is a part of a lady’s reproductive freedom, then the State ought to essentially assure authorized and protected companies for folks dealing with undesirable pregnancies. Furthermore, a fetus can’t be thought of a authorized individual till it’s born, and docs who’re conscientious objectors can not refuse to carry out the process if the girl’s life or well being is at stake. Lastly, the Courtroom ordered the Federal Congress of Mexico to legislate this pressing subject, contemplating abortion as a public well being service.
In comparable phrases, in February 2022, the Constitutional Courtroom of Colombia thought of abortion shouldn’t be a criminal offense throughout the first 24 weeks of being pregnant. Though the choice has not been printed, the Courtroom argued in an official press assertion that criminalizing abortion was in opposition to the constitutional rights to well being, equality and non-discrimination, and dignity of girls. Due to this fact, the Courtroom ordered the federal government and Congress to craft complete legal guidelines and public insurance policies to offer sexual and reproductive well being companies within the nation, together with abortion.
These judicial triumphs can’t be understood with out information of the feminist mobilization behind them. In each international locations, ladies’s rights actions have shaped robust networks of feminist organizations. In Mexico, the Nationwide Reproductive Rights Alliance (ANDAR) facilitated the decriminalization of abortion in Mexico Metropolis’s Legislature in 2007. Since then, the motion has superior the authorized framework by way of amparos and constitutional actions filed (not directly by liberal politicians) earlier than the Supreme Courtroom. Apart from Mexico Metropolis, six different states have decriminalized abortion within the first trimester (12 weeks): Baja California, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Hidalgo, Colima and Sinaloa (13 weeks). Coahuila is predicted to comply with this path in compliance with the Supreme Courtroom’s current abortion ruling.
In Colombia, the nationwide feminist community known as Causa Justa filed the constitutional motion to decriminalize abortion in 2020, which resulted within the current ruling. They capitalized on the collective mobilization beforehand accomplished by Ladies’s Hyperlink Worldwide (additionally a part of Causa Justa alliance) with policymakers and judges to decriminalize abortion in 2006 in circumstances of sexual violence, fetal malformations, and for well being causes. General, the feminist motion has promoted a continuing public debate round reproductive rights by way of media, legislation reform, and litigation, which has had a good impression on younger ladies, who’ve taken to the streets to name for abortion, in addition to on justices of constitutional courts and liberal legislators, who’ve voted in favor of reproductive freedom.
An knowledgeable and democratic dialog relating to abortion has been a basic a part of feminist mobilization in Latin America. With out it, we might not have the legal guidelines and rulings recognizing ladies’s proper to decide on in the present day. Versus silent screams, feminist shouts for authorized and accessible abortion have reduce by way of authorized and political reasoning. This feminist mobilization can inform the ladies’s rights motion within the U.S., affect methods to advertise higher entry to abortion, and reply to the present conservative judicial backlash.